Sunday, September 30, 2007

Everything I learned in life, I learned from The Great Gatsby. (Or why I love Louisville)

Current mood: amused
Category: Travel and Places
As I was driving down I-71 this weekend, I read one of my favorite books. Two qualifications: 1) i wasn't really reading per se, rather listening to Tim Robbins read aloud via my iPod. and 2) the book, The Great Gatsby might actually be my favorite book, and not just "one of my favorites."

You may have been forced to read it in school and hate it, or never have been forced, but still hate it. And that's fine. I won't judge you. But know that I happen to love the book, and i re-read it every other year or so. This is the first year i've had a dreamy actor read it aloud to me.

In chapter one, our narrator, Nick Carraway, visits his distant cousin, Daisy Buchanan at her home across the Bay. Daisy and Tom have another houseguest, Jordan Baker. When she hears that Nick lives in West Egg, the following conversation ensues:

"You live in West Egg," she remarked contemptuously. "I know somebody there."

"I don't know a single——"

"You must know Gatsby."

"Gatsby?" demanded Daisy. "What Gatsby?"

(Warning: mild spoiler alert -- though it certainly won't ruin the book for you)

We learn later in the story that Nick lives right next door to Gatsby. And that this Gatsby is an old suitor of Daisy's. Small world, i always used to think, and most people suspend their disbelief that this strange connection could actually happen.

But here's my theory as to HOW and WHY it happens. Because in the story, Daisy and Jordan are from LOUISVILLE, and Daisy met Gatsby in LOUISVILLE. And to folks from Louisville, it's not weird at all that your best friend's second cousin lives next door to the poor boy your friend used to date and that just so happens to be the nouveau-riche man you met at a party just last month. Because those kind of connections don't just happen in Louisville; they are expected.

When I lived in New York, I was always explaining that Kentucky is a big state and, "no i probably don't know the guy you know from Kentucky." But somehow it always turned out that i DID know him, or my mom went to high school with him, or my friend dated him, or something. This always just proved to the northeastern folks that, yes, Louisville is the smallest, most charming little backwards town.

I have read The Great Gatsby at least a dozen times, and the fact that Nick, Jordan, and Daisy all knew Gatsby from different avenues never bothered me. I never assumed it was a writer's trick or tactic; i just figured, "Isn't it funny how Louisvillians always know each other?"

That being said, it's good to be back here for a while. I've missed my dog and my deck. Tonight I cooked a butternut squash dish that I thought was delicious, but which my dad hated. See if I ever invite you over for dinner again, Dad. Mom ate it quietly, but used the salt quite a bit.

I'm playing Western Kentucky University on Tuesday afternoon, at noon. I think maybe i'll have a night out in Nashville on Monday. It's been a while. Then this weekend: the St. James Art Fair. I'm playing a quick set at the Blue Sky Kentucky booth. Well, they think i'm playing, but i'm thinking of painting instead. It is an art fair, after all. Gotta love St. James.

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