Jan/Feb 2024

e c l e c t i c a
n o n f i c t i o n


Two Pasts for the Novel: The Present Nostalgia of the First-Person in The Great Gatsby and La Rochelle

I am the same age, now, that Jay Gatsby is during that fateful summer, while I read The Great Gatsby once again for this essay. It's my 11th or 12th read, a lineage stretching back to what can only be called childhood (remember that?). Smith, in "That Crafty Feeling," suggests her best piece of advice to young writers is to step away from their novel, long enough to see it as "a smart stranger who picks it off a bookshelf and begins to read." This sound recommendation can serve to the reader as well as the writer; coming to Gatsby this time was, like all others, different from those that came before. Different not only because I was now reading with 11 reads behind me instead of 10, not only because I was reading it specifically for a project, and in running conversation with another novel, but also because this Dan had never read it before.

D. W. White