2/28/23: My rewrite of “The Great Gatsby” #poetry

2/28/23: My rewrite of “The Great Gatsby” #poetry

Change setting from 1920s to 2020s …

Keep the white supremacy speech by Tom Buchanan.

Make the Buchanan estate decorated in poorer taste.

The Buchanans’ dialogue’s tone should be changed. They sound like they’ve read a few books. Lean into ignorance.

The 1974 movie is good. I don’t care what they say. True to the novel, surprisingly restrained. In service of Fitzgerald …

Nick Carraway, the great writer hiding out as a stockbroker … love it.

Most of Tom Buchanan works today … racist, misogynist, bully, fascist, insulting, exploitative … scion of the ownership society … holder of odd grievances … wants to devastate people and then extract an apology from his victims.

I recall that in 1974 most of the discussion related to the movie was regarding its costume design. America wasn’t ready for “The Great Gatsby” in 1974. What a superficial reading. The acting and direction was called lifeless. It’s exquisite. When the words and ideas are Fitzgerald’s, just say your lines and don’t bump into the furniture.

It’s not about acting or direction. It’s not even about Fitzgerald.

Nick Carraway’s father taught him to see the best in people. He wished the best, but he sees them for what they are. That’s what it’s about.

The Oscar movies this year included many pictures of meaning. It ain’t got that swing if it don’t mean a thing. In the aftermath, I’ve watched several shows about nothing. I don’t care if they are bad. I just want meaning introduced. I’ll take it from there. I had nothing to write about. My life is in a quiet spot. I always relied on the movies to give me something close to experience until the real thing comes along.

Then I recalled that Tennessee Williams admired the 1974 Gatsby. Good enough for me. Meaning is all over the place if not necessarily au courant.

What to do about the Jazz Age parties? How to make them 2023? Make them more urban … corporate parties and events under the auspices of a corporation that Gatsby controls. Tableaus of privileged people and working class servants … drugs, Epstein-esque sex services …

In my version, I’m Carraway. I’d use all my stories from the blog. The outsider who doesn’t know it yet, observes everything and evaluates it … finds it meaning … performing a service for the others who are flailing about … they’ll need him when they wake up.

Carraway admires Gatsby. I wonder why all this bullshit is important to Gatsby. The clothes, the parties, the estate, the flowers, the romance with Daisy — who is a bit of a drip, the con man’s phony biography. Is he some sentimental personification of the American Dream? If he’s the best of us … oh, brother.

Daisy and Gatsby are better than Tom Buchanan, but … what kind of standard is that?

I’m fed up with Tom Buchanan. I’m impatient with moderates like Jay and Daisy. Love and power … let’s have it both ways. Impossible. Fuck that. I’m a radical. I’m tired of showing respect for so much that is unimportant.

This book is considered a classic because it makes people’s cheap desires important. Gatsby stole his fortune to compete with Tom and win Daisy. “Rich girls don’t marry poor boys, Jay Gatsby.” Hey Gatsby — she’s not worth it.

All this anxiety over breaking with the code of the crowd. Fuck the crowd. What did they ever do for you?

I am a new movement in American literature. I am not enamored by Hollywood or Zelda. I’m much more interested in Nick than Gatsby. I care most about the people outside, not the ones trapped in the middle. Outside is where the life is.

I want my life and all the bourgeoisie dummies with their bourgeoisie dreams are in the way.

The fascists and the whores of ‘success’ … the assholes and the idiots …

The movie was criticized as ‘lifeless’ … it actually is brilliant. The director Jack Clayton is an outsider viewing the shit show with detached regard. If this thing made me be emotional about these characters, I’d have an awful morning.

Fitzgerald admires Gatsby’s hope. What is he hoping for? I’ve hoped for things … never got them … wound up with something better. Every time. The world always lets you down, the truth sets you free.

Daisy is Gatsby’s illusion. A woman (or man), a career, a house, a this or that … romance … adolescent; ordinary life, necessity … and love … and purposeful work … not power, status, wealth and interior decorating …

Illusion is addictive torment … the high is momentarily delicious, the life is torment …

My version will not be romantic … the idea of self-immolation as a sacrament of true love …

Love isn’t suicidal …

Fuck money.

The Bible story of the golden calf gets to the point faster than The Great Gatsby. I know why Tennessee Williams likes the 1974 movie better than the novel. Clayton has less respect for money than Fitzgerald.

Nobody needs these fucking rich assholes. By 2023, people should wise up.

They make like their lives are so special, and they are all fucking miserable. Assholes.

And the people that admire the rich, and worse, depend on them? Idiots.


In my version, Gatsby is going to look like more of a jerk. I’ll make him a little clumsy. and some of his business dealings are going to fail. He will be a talented fool.

I don’t respect Gatsby’s or anyone else’s criminality. He reminds me of Nixon or Trump or the My Pillow Guy. Gatsby and the Music Man charismatically steal their piece of the American Dream.

Fuck the American Dream.

I’ve had enough. Look at the wreckage, Gatsby. Serve LIFE … not your dreams.

A tragedy involves a fall from something good. What’s good about where Gatsby started?

I knew all of this was nonsense when I came out of the womb.

Fuck lust, power and money.

Gatsby doesn’t love Daisy Buchanan. She’s just his unattainable totem for his impossible dream of being better than life.

Of course the life haters see “The Great Gatsby” as a classic. The life haters will never honor that which is greater than they are. They love to shed tears over the outcomes of their murderous ways.

The novel is a first class rendering of a second class sentiment.

The movie is first class. Look if you have eyes to see.

Fitzgerald is a greater writer than I am — by far; but I am a wiser person.

I’m so sick of Daisy. Daisy, Daisy, Daisy !!!! Just do what’s right. We are born knowing what’s right. If Daisy’s right, it will be good for Daisy. It’s so simple.

I have no sympathy for Gatsby. Empathy maybe, but I don’t like him.

The burden of dreams. I’ll take reality. Dreams converse with reality and transform waking existence. But if one follows only dream logic, the real merges with the surreal, and life is submerged in insane terror.

“They’re a rotten crowd. You are worth the whole damn bunch put together.” I’ll keep that line.

Gatsby ends up dead. Of course. Life isn’t good enough for you? That’s what you get.

My Gatsby story will be leavened with tough love. How many get caught up in Gatsby’s “romantic readiness” and re-enact the sickening passion play of his so-called life and death? Everyone from the Kennedys to John Belushi to all the other pop martyrs famous and obscure whose dead bodies wash up to the shore of 2023.

What a fucking waste over nothing.

I’m a tougher nut than Nick Carraway.

Copyright 2023 Richard Thomas


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