Okay, I’m back

This week I need to:

– catch up on sleep
– dry out from my boozy trip
– ‘keep my pecker up’
– teach tomorrow, too early but a great group of Year 8 girls
– start writing my first ‘proper’ book review or pike at the last minute and decide to just write a series of posts called This Is Not A Review.
– get in a load of fruit & veg for the locusts*
– re-start my walks
– get the dog washed
– do my usual reading and writing
– see if I can work out how to make congee**
– have a coffee with my mum
– have a coffee with one of my writing group buddies to see what I missed out on tonight

Because yes, I missed my writing group tonight. We meet once a month and it’s the first one I’ve not been able to attend. I had thought I wouldn’t be able to make it because we were getting back from our trip today and I thought the family should come first maybe this once (even though I’d wondered whether I could get away with going). But what was going to be a standard trip back turned into a small slice of hell with an extra 7 hours of travel because there was Bad Fog at Sydney and we couldn’t land. So we went to Canberra, then sat there on the tarmac for 4 hours while they refuelled. Then we flew to Sydney, then couldn’t get on flight to Melbourne until 4pm. I shouldn’t complain, I’m not, I promise. It was more annoying day than hell day. Got home about 6.30pm, had to organise dinner like a juggler with no balls.

I’m re-reading The Great Gatsby – god it’s good. So funny. Need to refresh my brain with it before seeing Baz’s version which will just be entirely Baz I’m sure. I’m expecting it will be a different thing, almost like Bizarro Gatsby, and I’ll just accept that that is that, and it’s not The Book. If most people could approach it like this, then that might be better. And on the subject of books and their films, has anyone read Cloud Atlas? Has anyone seen the film? I watched half an hour of it on the plane. More like Nose Atlas. All those prostheses, and it was just so confusing. I have the book, and I’ll try to read it but I’m expecting trouble.

I think I’m a bit delirious and I feel like I’m swaying here on the chair.

So, to bed. To bed. Hong Kong was mad and wonderful. I caught up with lots of old friends – one who lives there, another who was travelling through and who I see heaps in Melbourne and then other old friends who were passing through on their way home to Osaka from New Zealand. The first two ‘meets’ were planned before we left Australia, but the third lucky meeting was just one of those things that works out beautifully, like a gift from the universe.

So this week: what will you bring me? And what can I give?

* these are actually Teenagers, and mostly One Teenager. My daughter.

** I had congee for the first time and I adored it. I knew I would.

20 thoughts on “Okay, I’m back

  1. Well welcome back, Jenny! Glad you had a good time, even if the return journey sounds like it couldn’t have been much worse.

    I found it impossible no to comment when you mentioned you were reading Gatsby. Which is probably a predictable, and boring, response but, well, I had to. Firstly it’s so good to read you say it’s funny. I think so too. Not exactly losing bladder control funny, but there are a lot of subtle jokes/asides/moments which I enjoy, and one brief part near the end where I laugh out loud nearly every time I read it. The other day I read a review where the writer was being critical (in a “this book is a bit overrated” kind of way) and they said something about a lack of humour, which just didn’t seem right to me. So thank you.

    And the other thing is about the film. I have misgivings abot the Baz treatment, of course, but you’re right. It will be Baz’s story or version of the story, and even if I hate it, which I probably won’t, it can’t hurt the book itself.

    1. Hi there John, thanks for your comment, haven’t seen you for a while. Well, I finished Gatsby this morning, god it’s good. I’d love to know which bit makes you laugh out loud? Yes, they aren’t side-splittingly funny bits but more wry, clever bits that make me smile. I wonder that no body mentions them? We need to remember that everybody has a different reading experience of the same book, because there is a space in between the author and the reader that the reader fills with their ‘stuff’ – interpretations and responses and imaginings that are unique to them. So that person who called the book overrated and with no humour, possibly doesn’t know what subtle humour looks like (and therefore missed it) and maybe they usually like to read completely different books, like 007 or something, and heard about how Great Gatsby is, thought to ‘check it out’ and was disappointed and missed the brilliance and beauty of it.

      There’s a reassuring response to the film on another blog, I’ll put the link below. And I’ve left a rawther long comment about the book vs film question.

      1. That’s true. We all have individual reading experiences, and readers tend to approach the process of reading from their own vantage point, with their own life experiences and reading style to giuide them. A writer ony has so much influence over how a reader will receive the words they write (and that goes fora reviewer as well).

        I love the beauty of the language in the book most of all, but the futility of the prospect of happiness and the idea that all the characters are completely flawed really appeal to me too. The American Dream as an ironic idea which contains no idealism and certainly no beauty means a lot to me. But the beauty of the language being undercut by characters being appalling people who do appalling things to each other is important to me too.

        And none of that is very original, I know.

        The review I was referring to is here: http://www.vulture.com/2013/05/schulz-on-the-great-gatsby.html (But I’ve been reading all of them.)

        And the part that makes me laugh is near the end when Mr. Gatz is looking through his dead boy Jimmy’s notebook, and he talks about how the boy wanted to improve himself: “He told me I et like a hog once, and I beat him for it” – that bit.

        (It’s Phil, by the way, Jenny. But that’s not important.)

  2. Well I’d best read it then. Coming from you it’s a high recommendation. Apparently the structure is unique – which is partly why I bought it. Will get back to you when I’ve read it.

    1. That’s very interesting, and refreshing. Thank you.

      It feels to me like the commentary became more positive as the film got nearer to actually comng out – the really negative reviews were out early. I particularly like the question “is Luhrmann trying to be Fitzgerald or Gatsby?” That’s very thought-provoking, and I wonder how different the answer might be depending on which director directed it.

      Pater Craven was also surprisingly, to me as I read it, positive about the film: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/film/baz-nails-the-gatsby-enigma/story-e6frg8pf-1226650085432

      1. I agree, that early reviews were nasty then they did improve. Wonder why. Also that question of Luhrmann trying to be F or G, I thought that the film seemed to conflate the idea of Gatsby and Fitzgerald in some way (the alcoholism of Carraway, which wasn’t in the book.) Had an exchange with Giles Hardie on twitter and he said that the Carraway in the sanitorium was in an early version of Gatsby. So maybe Fitzgerald was attributing some of his own characteristics to Gatsby in that version. Have you seen it yet?

      2. Nah, haven’t seen it yet. I will. I’m really bad about seeing films, but this is a special case for me obviously.

        Apparently the film is more based on Trimalchio, which is the early version I think Giles Hardie was probably talking about. It’s much closer to the manuscript as submitted by FSF, again apparently. (To my shame, I’ve only just heard that it was possible to buy this book, and I will do it, soon.) The actors all had copies of Trimalchio, not Gatsby, while on set and that version of the text fleshes out parts of the plot which are more implied or suggested in the ‘finished’ version.

        I didn’t know that the sanatorium idea wasfrom an early version. This seemed like one of Baz’s ideas, and it makes me more comfortable to think that it wasn’t just invented – although if it works in the movie, then that’s the main thing.

        There’s also another question: is Fitzgerald the same as Carraway? I’d say no – the reader is intended to judge Nick like all the other characters – but the two clearly are very close. The author’s voice and the writers voice (or whatever the technical terms are) are similar but not the same – I hope you know what I mean.

      3. Ah okay now we are getting closer. I read somewhere that Baz, when asked if he’d read Gatsby, said something quite cryptic like (paraphrasing) I haven’t read the book The Great Gatsby, no. I’ve read about Trimalchio (it’s referenced in the into to the Penguin Edition of TGG that I have) and also the Margaret Throsby podcast I’ve linked somewhere here in this mess, the Prof in that talks about it as well, and Throsby is familiar with it. To me the santiorium scenes also seemed like Baz add-ons, however Giles Hardie was clear that they were from the Trimalchio. Also makes me more comfortable that they weren’t invented, I look forward to your opinion as to whether they work. To me they concocted a (for me) unwelcome bridge between FSF and Carraway. I’d have preferred to see Nick as a character who rises above and moves on, developed and a better person (as I think the book indicates) but the movie doesn’t necessarily have that hopeful uplift for Carraway.

        Probably I would have preferred it just to stay with the parameters of the final published version. There are good reasons why those earlier versions weren’t final.

      4. That all makes sense. The Sanitorium scenes don’t sit right with me, as I preferred to think of Nick going back to the Mid West and living in a less interesting but more morally upright society which also values his sense of his own high ethical standards (however misguided he might be about how good he actually is). The New York phase of his life as a brief chapter which is over and he’s now among the simple and good again – that idea appealed to me. It’s a slight twist on your rises above and moves on, but I think we agree basically on what we would have liked for Nick in the film.

        But, of course, I still haven’t seen it.

        Yep, there are good reasons why cuts were made and why the final work is different from previous drafts. It’s a good thing, a strength of the story, that the character Gatsby is only in the book for some tiny percentage of the story (forgotten the exact percentage). It makes him more mysterious, for one thing.

        Incidentally, I recently found a biography of a Max Perkins called Max Perkins: Editor Of Genius (by A Scott Berg). It’s very good. Max was both Hemingway’s and Fitzgerald’s editor (as I’m sure you know) and there are many fascinating insights into the editorial process and the relationships between all three men in the book. I love reading about books.

      5. Fab, thanks for that bio title, would love to read it. Have read a lot of bios on Hemingway and now intend to read a few Fitzgerald ones. I love reading about books too.

  3. PHIL I know it’s Phil but aren’t you John Turdenmeier at your blog? I was trying to keep it to your alias, I hadn’t forgotten you were Phil. I shall call you Phil!

      1. No it does matter and it is a big thing. Names are important and not getting it right is disrespectful and or stupido! Stand up for your name!

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