fiction

15 Funny Books You Can Read or Listen to Right Now

 

I've been continuing to dig through Hoopla for titles to recommend since you never have to wait or place the book you want on hold—all of their content is always instantly available. Right now you can get up to 10 downloads a month, and they offer eBooks, eAudiobooks, comics, movies and TV shows, and music. If some humor sounds good to you right now, here are some suggestions to make you laugh (and sometimes cry too), with some available as eBooks, some as eAudiobooks, and some available in both formats. 

Descriptions in italics provided by the publisher.

eAudiobooks + Comedy Albums

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris 
(Essays) Sedaris’s essays on living in Paris are some of the funniest he's ever written. At last, someone even meaner than the French! The sort of blithely sophisticated, loopy humour that might have resulted if Dorothy Parker and James Thurber had had a love child. (Also available as an eBook on Overdrive)

A Horse Walks Into A Bar by David Grossman, translated by Jessica Cohen, read by Joe Barrett 
(Fiction) An Israeli comedian a bit past his prime conveys with semi-questionable humor anecdotes from his violence-stricken youth during a night of standup, while a judge in the audience wrestles with his own part in the comedian's losses. Winner of the Man Booker International Award (Also available as an eBook on Overdrive) 

Yes Please by Amy Pohler 
(Biography) Amy Poehler is hosting a dinner party and you're invited! Welcome to the audiobook edition of Amy Poehler's Yes Please. The guest list is star-studded with vocal appearances from Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Michael Schur, Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner, and even Amy's parents-Yes Please is the ultimate audiobook extravaganza. Also included? A one night only live performance at Poehler's Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. Hear Amy read a chapter live in front of a young and attractive Los Angeles audience. While listening to Yes Please, you'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll become convinced that your phone is trying to kill you. Don't miss this collection of stories, thoughts, ideas, lists, and haikus from the mind of one of our most beloved entertainers. 

Beta Male by Kumail Nanjiani 
(Stand-Up) In the world premiere of his Comedy Central one-hour stand-up special, "Beta Male," Kumail Nanjiani [Silicon Valley, The Big Sick] tells you about all the things that terrify him completely.

You can also browse hundreds of comedy albums on Hoopla here. 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, read by Carly Robins
(Fiction) Stella Lane comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases--a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old. It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice--with a professional--which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. (Also available as an eBook on Overdrive)

Ask A Mexican by Gustavo Arellano, read by William Dufris, Christine Marshall 
(Essays) An irreverent, hilarious, and informative look at Mexican American culture is taken by a rising star in the alternative media, as well as a new kid on the block in such mainstream venues as NPR, the Los Angeles Times, Today, and The Colbert Report. Gustavo Arellano has compiled the best questions about Mexican Americans from readers of his Ask a Mexican! column in California's OC Weekly and uses them to explore the clichés of lowriders, busboys, and housekeepers; drunks and scoundrels; heroes and celebrities; and most important, millions upon millions of law-abiding, patriotic American citizens and their illegal-immigrant cousins who represent some $600 billion in economic power.

eBooks

Small Doses: Potent Truths for Everyday Use by Amanda Seales 
(Essays) Comedian, writer, actress, and social media star Amanda Seales is a force of nature who has fearlessly and passionately charted her own course through life and career. Now, in her one-of-a-kind voice that blends academic intellectualism, Black American colloquialisms, and pop culture fanaticism, she's bringing her life's lessons and laughs to the page. This volume of essays, axioms, original illustrations, and photos provides Seales's trademark 'self-help from the hip' style of commentary, fueled by ideology formed from her own victories, struggles, research, mistakes, risks, and pay-offs. Unapologetic, fiercely funny, and searingly honest, Small Doses engages, empowers, and enlightens readers on how to find their truths while still finding the funny!

Rez Salute by Jim Northrup 
(Essays) Since 2001, Indian Country has seen great changes, touching everything from treaty rights to sovereignty issues to the rise (and sometimes the fall) of gambling and casinos. With unsparing honesty and a good dose of humor, Jim Northrup [looks at] the changes in Indian Country, as well as daily life on the rez.

Outwitting Squirrels by Bill Adler 
(Anti-squirrel How-to) For 25 years, Outwitting Squirrels has been leading the charge to help bird lovers defend their feeders from these fast, greedy, incredibly crafty creatures who pillage birdfeeders before owners very eyes. This classic defense manual for the besieged bird feeder has been fully updated to deal with the more tech-savvy, 21st-century squirrel. It provides 101 cunning strategies, both serious and hilarious, for outsmarting these furry, but not so cute, creatures. Author Bill Adler Jr. discusses the different bird personalities and the best seed to attract them. He rates birdfeeders based upon how squirrel-proof, or squirrel vexing they are, and discusses creative anti-squirrel structures and devices. Spooker poles, Perrier bottles, baffled fishing line, Teflon spray, Vaseline, water bombs, cayenne pepper, and Nixalite the author has tried them all and he regales readers with his squirrel adventures and misadventures.

A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole 
(Fiction) A Confederacy of Dunces is an American comic masterpiece. John Kennedy Toole's hero, one Ignatius J. Reilly, is "huge, obese, fractious, fastidious, a latter-day Gargantua, a Don Quixote of the French Quarter. His story bursts with wholly original characters, denizens of New Orleans' lower depths, incredibly true-to-life dialogue, and the zaniest series of high and low comic adventures" (Henry Kisor, Chicago Sun-Times). Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. 

eBook & eAudiobook

I’m Just a Person by Tig Notaro 
(Biography) One of America’s most original comedic voices delivers a darkly funny, wryly observed, and emotionally raw account of her year of death, cancer, and epiphany… An inspired combination of the deadpan silliness of her comedy and the open-hearted vulnerability that has emerged in the wake of that dire time, I’m Just a Person is a moving and often hilarious look at this very brave, very funny woman’s journey into the darkness and her thrilling return from it.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore 
(Fiction) A bold, hilarious, speculative novel fills in the lost years of Jesus life, told from the perspective of Biff, Christ's childhood best buddy… Lamb is the crowning achievement of Christopher Moore's storied career: fresh, wild, audacious, divinely hilarious, yet heartfelt, poignant, and alive, with a surprising reverence. Let there be rejoicing unto the world! Christopher Moore is come -- to bring truth, light, and big yuks to fans old and new with the Greatest Story Never Told! 

Rabbit by Patricia Williams with Jeannine Amber
(Biography) Patricia Williams (aka Ms. Pat) was born and raised in Atlanta at the height of the crack epidemic. One of five children, Pat watched as her mother struggled to get by on charity, cons, and petty crimes. At age seven, Pat was taught to roll drunks for money. At twelve, she was targeted for sex by a man eight years her senior. By thirteen, she was pregnant. By fifteen, Pat was a mother of two. Alone at sixteen, Pat was determined to make a better life for her children. But with no job skills and an eighth-grade education, her options were limited. She learned quickly that hustling and humor were the only tools she had to survive. Rabbit is an unflinching memoir of cinematic scope and unexpected humor. With wisdom and humor, Pat gives us a rare glimpse of what it's really like to be a black mom in America. (Also available as a stand up comedy album, Rabbit by Ms. Pat)

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert 
(Fiction) A witty, hilarious romantic comedy about a woman who's tired of being "boring" and recruits her mysterious, sexy neighbor to help her experience new things… Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list.

What If? by Randall Munroe 
(Essays & Trivia) Millions of people visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe's iconic webcomic. His stick-figure drawings about science, technology, language, and love have a large and passionate following. Fans of xkcd ask Munroe a lot of strange questions. What if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90 percent the speed of light? How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live? If there was a robot apocalypse, how long would humanity last? In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations, and consults with nuclear reactor operators. His responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity, complemented by signature xkcd comics. 

Need Help?

You can find out more about Oakland Public Library's online books, movies and more here.

If you need help using eBooks or other online resources, you can make an appointment to speak with a librarian. Fill out the online form here, or call 510-238-3134 to make an appointment.

If you need help with your library account or have other questions, please email eanswers@oaklandlibrary.org or leave a voice mail with your full name and details at 510-238-3134.

If you don’t have a library account, we're still issuing new library cards during the Shelter in Place Order. Just complete an online application and email eanswers@oaklandlibrary.org to set one up.

Looking for more reading recommendations? Try our service for readers, Book Me! Fill out an online form and a librarian will send you a personalized list of reading suggestions.

Have you read anything wonderful during the Shelter in Place? Please share in the comments!

 

 

10 Great Fiction eReads Available Right Now

If you haven’t used Hoopla yet, it’s easy—just download the free app, and it gives you access to eBooks, eAudiobooks, comics, music, movies and television shows. Best of all, there are no waitlists—all content is always available. Right now your library card will get you 10 downloads a month.

I’ve been browsing Hoopla for great reads, and here are 10 fiction picks for you.

 

Girl, Woman, Other
by Bernardine Evaristo
This year Evaristo became the first Black woman to win the Booker Prize (sharing it with Margaret Atwood) for her novel that uses artful prose in an exploration of race, sexuality, gender, age and Black British womanhood through the interconnected lives of twelve women and femmes who take turns sharing the narrative spotlight. “The prose may be experimental, but the readerly pleasures of character and plot are very traditional. It is a life-enhancing, horizon-expanding novel: funny, inventive and fizzing with vitality.” (The Guardian

The Sympathizer
by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction along with a fistful of other awards. A half-Vietnamese, half-French young man looks back at the fall of Saigon, his flight to the United States as a refugee and his new life in Southern California. He’s a double agent: a Communist sympathizer working for the South Vietnamese Army, torn between two loyalties, two cultures and two lands. “Ultimately a meditation on war, political movements, America's imperialist role, the CIA, torture, loyalty, and one's personal identity, this is a powerful, thought-provoking work” (Library Journal). “Both chilling and funny, and a worthy addition to the library of first-rate novels about the Vietnam War” (Kirkus).  

An American Marriage
by Tayari Jones
Newlyweds Roy and Celestial have a bright future ahead of them; he’s a rising corporate executive and she is an up-and-coming artist. Their lives are shattered when, in a case of mistaken identity, Roy is wrongly convicted of rape and sentenced to twelve years in prison. “This novel is peopled by vividly realized, individual characters and driven by interpersonal drama, but it is also very much about being black in contemporary America… This is, at its heart, a love story, but a love story warped by racial injustice. And, in it, Jones suggests that racial injustice haunts the African-American story. Subtle, well-crafted, and powerful.” (Kirkus Reviews) An American Marriage won the Women’s Prize for Fiction, Aspen Words Prize and an NAACP Image Award.  Also available as an eAudiobook. 

Oakland Noir
Edited by Jerry Thompson and Eddie Muller
Our beloved town grabs the spotlight in this long running crime anthology series from Akashic Books, featuring noir stories by local authors including Nayomi Munaweera, Judy Juanita, Keenan Norris, Kim Addonizio, and our own Oakland History Center Librarian and author Dorothy Lazard. “Thompson and Muller have taken such pains to choose stories highlighting Oakland's diversity and history that the result is a volume rich in local culture as well as crime.” (Kirkus Reviews) Also available as an eAudiobook 

Convenience Store Woman
by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori
Keiko Furukura was a strange child. When she turned 18, she discovered that as a convenience store worker at Smile Mart she could smother her unconventional urges with her employer’s rigid corporate culture. Another 18 years later, adult expectations of who she should be chip away at her efforts at living a “normal life.” “A sly take on modern work culture and social conformism… Murata provides deceptively sharp commentary on the narrow social slots people—particularly women—are expected to occupy and how those who deviate can inspire bafflement, fear, or anger in others… A unique and unexpectedly revealing English language debut.” (Kirkus) Winner of Japan’s prestigious Akutagawa Prize.  Also available as an eAudiobook 

The Mountains Sing
by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
The history of the Trần family over four generations is set against the tumultuous background of Vietnam in the 20th century. Diệu Lan’s life of privilege as a young person fades as she persists through tragedy after tragedy, and she ultimately shares her story with her granddaughter Hương when she becomes her sole caregiver. “Widely published in Vietnamese, poet, nonfiction writer, and translator Nguyễn’s first novel in English balances the unrelenting devastation of war with redemptive moments of surprising humanity.” (Booklist) Also available as an eAudiobook.

The Leavers
by Lisa Ko
Ko won the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction and was a National Book Award Finalist for this debut novel about Peilan Guo, an undocumented immigrant and young mother from China, and her American-born son, Deming. Deming is a fifth grader when his mom fails to return from her job at a Bronx nail shop. Foster care puts him in the care of a couple of white professors in upstate New York. After years of wondering, a struggling 21 year old Deming seeks answers about his mother. “Ko’s stunning tale of love and loyalty—to family, to country—is a fresh and moving look at the immigrant experience in America, and is as timely as ever.” (Publishers Weekly) Also available as an eAudiobook. 

The Wangs Vs. the World
by Jade Chang
Charles Wang left China for the United States, where he built a cosmetics empire. When his company tanks during the economic crash of 2008, he loses his Bel Air house, pulls his younger kids out of college and private school and the family hits the road with the intent to move in with the eldest daughter, a conceptual artist who lives in the Catskills. “Chang’s charming and quirky characters and comic observations make the novel a jaunty joy ride to remember.” (Publishers Weekly) The Wangs Vs. the World was a New York Times Editor's Choice and selected as a Best Book of the Year by NPR and others.  

Useful Phrases for Immigrants
by May-Lee Chai
This slim volume of stories, winner of a 2019 American Book Award, looks at the lives of people in China and the Chinese diaspora around the globe, touching on issues of class, sexuality, identity and relationships. “With her masterful short story collection, Chai proves with exquisite craftsmanship that less can be so much more… The concise tales in this literary gem linger in the mind long after the pages are turned.” (Booklist 

Sarong Party Girls
by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
Jazzy’s 27th birthday is coming up, so it’s time to stop partying and find her dream husband—an ang moh, a rich white Western expat. Cheeky, clever and determined, not to mention brand-obsessed, Jazzy pursues her marital goal in the often shocking after-hours clubs of Singapore. Her story is punctuated with Singlish—a patois derived from a mix of English, Malay, Mandarin, Hokkien, Teochew, Indian and Cantonese. “A rowdy tale, memorable language, and a very distinctive protagonist.” (Kirkus Reviews) Tan is also the author of the memoir A Tiger in the Kitchen (2011). Also available as an eAudiobook.

You can find out more about Oakland Public Library's online books, movies and more here.

If you need help with your library account or have other questions (including how to access Hoopla), please email eanswers@oaklandlibrary.org or leave a voice mail with your full name and details at 510-238-3511.

If you don’t have a library account, we're still issuing new library cards during the Shelter in Place Order. Just complete an online application and email eanswers@oaklandlibrary.org to set one up.

Looking for more reading recommendations? Try our service for readers, Book Me! Fill out an online form and a librarian will send you a personalized list of reading suggestions.

Exploring Queer Lives: By Nightfall

By Nightfall novel jacket black tulip facing downThe Hours novel jacket

Michael Cunningham’s  By Nightfall is a gorgeously written novel that reveals the inner life of Peter, an art dealer and gallery owner in his 40’s who finds himself powerfully drawn to his wife’s beautiful, directionless  younger brother.  Michael Cunningham is the prize-winning author of many novels, including The Hours, which he has described as a tribute to Virginia Woolf.  Here a similar stream of consciousness style lets the reader live through Peter’s emotional earthquake and its surprising aftermath. 

Although the central tension comes from a man’s attraction to another man, By Nightfall is not about “being gay”. Gender as a factor of desire is a fascinating aspect of the story, evoking many speculations. It’s a story about a person who contemplates abandoning his life's work and partner for a brief affair with a wild card visitor, one who evokes associations with past passions.  It’s a story about the New York art world, artists and gallery owners, real genius and manufactured artistic product.  It’s a story about the art of life, chaos and craft, manipulation and spontaneity, and the precarious balance between them.  If there is such a thing as “post-gay”, By Nightfall exemplifies it with seamless integration of queerness into the human narrative.

 

Memoir or Fiction: Exploring Queer Lives

A beautiful young man pursues sex, love and a modeling career in the exhilarating and heartbreaking gay circles of New York City circa the 1970s and 1980s. Fiction or memoir? Why not both? The authors are celebrated writers in the LGBTQ community known for their achievements in the fields of literature, memoir and biography: Edmund White and Brad Gooch.

Our Young Man by Edmund White, clearly a modern take on The Picture of Dorian Gray, paints a rather bland portrait of Guy, a French model who does not seem to age as he partakes in the gay whirl of New York, Fire Island, and Paris. Guy is remote, almost untouchable; failing as a boy-toy, trying again as the trophy partner of a wealthy older man, and playing the fool for a young ne’er-do-well who ends up in prison.  While surrounded by beauty, money, desire and success, Guy seems to be a stereotype of the shallow model, never really rising above a vaguely misanthropic irritability.  All around him AIDS rages, and he finds himself caring for his dying older partner, and then entangled with a younger one. Despite having all the right ingredients for a moving and exciting tale, the novel portrays a man who seems bloodless, his beautiful exterior a passport into a world he can’t fully feel. Perhaps a stunned survivor of these decades would require a measured distance to tell such a tale. 

Smash Cut : a Memoir of Howard & Art & the '70s & the '80s by Brad Gooch details his real-life love story with Howard Brookner, a film maker, in the artistic crucible of New York in the 70’s and 80’s. It is more than lust at first sight. The two pursue their creative endeavors in a shared life full of art, parties, sex, drugs, and long letters to each other; hobnobbing with notables like William Burroughs, Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe and Madonna. The bittersweet wisdom of hindsight permeates Brad’s memories. He casts his own successful modeling career as the villain that comes between the lovers, with a minor role for Howard’s drug use. Like most great love stories, this is a tragedy. Howard contracts HIV; Brad doesn’t. In this confessional yet crafted tale, I found the juice that seemed missing from Our Young Man. I felt like I knew the author by the end of this book, or at least the Brad Gooch that stood at his lover’s graveside and wept, and I shed a tear with him.

Have you ever read a novel that led you into the biography section of the library, or visa versa? Leave us a comment or recommendation.

(Note: Smash cut is available through Link+ until a copy is received for OPL's collection.)

Photo of Brad Gooch from NYTimes Review April 2015

 

 

Fiction That Changed Our Lives

One of the fun things about being a librarian is getting juicy readers advisory questions, so when Rockridge librarian Emily Weak was asked by a young woman, "What fiction have you read that changed your life?” she instantly sprang into action, sending the query around the library system.  We nerded out about it for a while, giving it all the weight deserved by a question regarding the transformation of one’s very life. Emily compiled a list of nearly 100 titles. That ought to prepare our young friend for the rest of her life, no? Here is a mere sampling, with a focus on less current titles:

 

Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

 A rich epic, drawn from the classic Moby Dick, chronicles the life of Una Spenser, wife of the immortal Captain Ahab, from her Kentucky childhood, through her adventures disguised as a whaling ship cabin boy, to her various marriages.           

 

 

The amazing adventures of Kavelier and Clay by Michael Chabon

 In 1939 New York City, Joe Kavalier, a refugee from Hitler's Prague, joins forces with his Brooklyn-born cousin, Sammy Clay, to create comic-book superheroes inspired by their own fantasies, fears, and dreams.

 

 

Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

Tired of being labeled white trash, Ruth Anne Boatwright--a South Carolina bastard who is attached to the indomitable women in her mother's family--longs to escape from her hometown, and especially from Daddy Glen and his meanspirited jealousy.

 

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Somewhere in South America terrorists seize hostages at an embassy party, and an unlikely assortment of people is thrown together, including American opera star Roxanne Coss, and Mr. Hosokawa, a Japanese CEO and her biggest fan.

 

Blindness by Jose Saramago

In a provocative parable of loss, disorientation, and weakness, a city is hit by an epidemic of "white blindness" whose victims are confined to a vacant mental hospital, while a single eyewitness to the nightmare guides seven oddly assorted strangers through the barren urban landscape.

                                                                                                                                               

The good earth by Pearl S. Buck

A graphic view of China during the reign of the last emperor as it tells the story of an honest Chinese peasant and his wife as they struggle with the sweeping changes of the twentieth century.

 

 

The house on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

For Esperanza, a young girl growing up in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago, life is an endless landscape of concrete and run-down tenements, and she tries to rise above the hopelessness. Told in a series of vignettes.

 

 

I know this much is true by Wally Lamb

Dominick Birdsey, a forty-year-old housepainter living in Three Rivers, Connecticut, finds his subdued life greatly disturbed when his identical twin brother Thomas, a paranoid schizophrenic, commits a shocking act of self-mutilation.

 

 

If Beale Street could talk by James Baldwin

A love story in the face of injustice set in Harlem in the early 1970s. Told through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwin’s story mixes the sweet and the sad. 

 

 

Interpreter of maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

A collection of short fiction that blends elements of Indian traditions with the complexities of American culture in such tales as "A Temporary Matter," in which a young Indian-American couple confronts their grief over the loss of a child, while their Boston neighborhood copes with a nightly blackout.

                                                                                                                                       

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

In nineteenth-century England, all is going well for rich, reclusive Mr Norell, who has regained some of the power of England's magicians from the past, until a rival magician, Jonathan Strange, appears and becomes Mr Norrell's pupil.

                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                            The name of the rose by Umberto Eco

In 1327, finding his sensitive mission at an Italian abbey further complicated by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William of Baskerville turns detective.

 

 

                                                                                                                                          The once and future king by T.H. White

Describes King Arthur's life from his childhood to the coronation, creation of the Round Table, and search for the Holy Grail.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                       Prodigal summer by Barbara Kingsolver

Wildlife biologist Deanna is caught off guard by an intrusive young hunter, while bookish city wife Lusa finds herself facing a difficult identity choice, and elderly neighbors find attraction at the height of a long-standing feud.

 

 

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Macon Dead, Jr., called "Milkman," the son of the wealthiest African American in town, moves from childhood into early manhood, searching, among the disparate, mysterious members of his family, for his life and reality.

 

 

Wild sheep chase by Haruki Murakami 

Blending elements of myth and mystery, this literary thriller features a cast of bizarre characters, including a sheep with a mysterious star on its back, caught up in a Nietzschean quest for power. 

                                                                                                                                             

Now your turn: Share some fiction that changed your life.                                                                                               

Wealth, Youth, Beauty, Misery: Gatsby

I've just finished The Great Gatsby, first time since high school (hey Ms. Mac!) and thanks to John Green, object of my latest author-crush, I have a newfound appreciation. Seriously, you should check out this video.


Oh ya, and the latest screen adaptation is coming to a branch near you. 

James Gatz fell in love with Daisy when he was a soldier and she was a teenage debutant. Daisy went through gentlemen callers by the dozen, but clung to Gatz, for a time. But James was a "Mr. Nobody from Nowhere" and Daisy couldn't wait around for him to become a somebody from somewhere, so they both moved on. Some years later, Jim Gatz became Jay Gatsby, a charming, wealthy "Oxford man" and Daisy Fay became Daisy Buchanan, with a summer mansion and a philandering husband and a baby daughter.

Gatsby may have come across his newfound wealth by questionable means, but that didn't deter anyone from attending his outrageous parties at his beachside mansion.  Besides, he did it all for Daisy, he wanted her back.

Talk about lack of sympathetic characters.  The major players of the book are all from the Midwest and are young, handsome and, to varying degrees, rich.  It's the age of prohibition, but that doesn't stop our richlings from indulging in fine liquor at lavish parties on luxurious east coast beaches. Tom Buchanan,  Daisy's husband is an ex-footbal star.  He's old money, a bit racist, having an affair, and what's worse, he's just a jerk. Daisy seems to have no input on control over any aspect of her life. Our narrator, Nick Carraway and his summer fling, Jordan Baker are perhaps unwitting voyeurs to the Gatsby-Buchanan drama, but they seem to revel in it. Nick is decent, but even he doesn't want to like Gatsby, a caricature of perfection, who had a smile that “...concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.” They are all young, beautiful, rich, carefree, and ultimately miserable. 

What holds the novel together is that you can empathize with Gatsby, and maybe all of them. Who doesn't want to be young and carefree?  Who doesn't want to relive their golden past? Perhaps you would have made different life decisions, but you have the benefit of hindsight and as a reader, not a character, also of being omnipotent.  I don't want to give away the ending, but I'll just say that there's a horrific car crash, and a murder-suicide in the end.  Tom and Daisy come away physically unscathed.

I think that Tom and Daisy are meant for each other.  "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy -- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made." They blow into town for a frantic summer and leave death and destruction in their wake.  In the end they simply move on to the next fashionable town or whirlwind vacation.  

Does being rich mean that you can brush off your responsibility toward your fellow man? And Is the pursuit of wealth for love and acceptance a worthy pursuit?  Of course, these are loaded questions, because if the answer is "no" then why do we continue these pursuits?

Posted on: September 20, 2013, by Jenera Burton, Piedmont Ave branch