Before you get too excited, remember that engineers aren’t that interesting.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt
–on employees spending 20% of time on work they think is interesting on Wait Wait
Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck [NAL, 2013]–****
In the Body of the World by Eve Ensler [Metropolitan, 2013]–*****
re-read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald– read along with One Literature Nut (Becky). will see the film tomorrow!
hosted by hosted by Sheila at Book Journey
Becky at One Literature Nut has done a fabulous job with this Read Along.
Here are the final questions for Ch. 7 through the end of the novel:
What do you think happened to Daisy after the “accident” with Myrtle? What conversation do you think happened between she and Tom?
Was the laser-point focus of Gatsby his own sick fault, or did he ever have a real chance with Daisy? Could they have ever had a life?
What is it about the past that we somehow can never escape it or relive it? Or can we actually relive parts of it, and so that gives us some sick hope?
What most stood out to you in these final chapters?
What do you most look forward to seeing in the film?
Gatsby couldn’t escape the fact that he’d been poor and someone else in the society he now entertained. Daisy would never date James Gatz. She’s now settled in her rich life with Tom and even if she’s unhappy with Tom’s dalliances, she’s not going to be with someone who reinvented himself. As cool as Gatsby now is, Daisy cannot accept him. What can’t we often escape about the past? Or former selves. Our regrets. As far as we get. As well as we go, there’s always someone from the past who wants to remind us from whence we came and who wants to take us down.
“He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was . . .” [pg. 110]
love this line:
“Human sympathy had its limits, and we were content to let all their tragic arguments fade with the city lights behind. Thirty–the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning briefcase of enthusiasm, thinning hair.” [p. 135]
You have to feel some empathy for Gatsby and his lack of pedigree in competing for Daisy’s affections with the likes of Tom Buchanan. Maybe things might have worked out for the two of them but Daisy doesn’t seem the type to stick with a guy through thick and thin. She’s about the glitz and glamor. She’s not in it for the long haul, the bad times, merely the good. “he let her believe that he was a person from much the same stratum as herself–that he was fully able to take care of her. As a matter of fact, he had no such facilities–he had not comfortable family standing behind him, and he was liable at the whim of an impersonal government to be blown anywhere about the world.” [p. 149]
Can’t believe that Nick turns out to be as bad as the rest of them. He tells Gatsby: “You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.” He then says: “It was the only compliment I ever gave him, because I disapproved of him from beginning to end.” [p. 154] They seemed to become good friends but I guess we knew Nick wasn’t extremely fond of Gatsby’s ways and he certainly didn’t fawn over him like many others.
Haven’t had a chance to see the film yet. Will see it on Tuesday. Looking forward to the costumes, the party scenes, Leo DiCaprio and Tobey MacGuire and like Baz Luhrman. Not wild about Carey Mulligan.
Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck. Publisher: New American Library (May 2013). Historical fiction. Trade Paperback Original. 326 pages. ISBN 978-0-451-23992-1.
Zelda Fitzgerald’s become this mythical, magical spirited and elegant figure for the literary and Jazz age of the 1920s and 1930s. There’s been much written about her turbulent relationship with her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald. She served as a muse for characters in many of his novels. They partied and drank their way through Paris in their heyday before losing much of their fame and wealth. Zelda suffered from mental illness—schizophrenia, anxiety, depression– and needed to be institutionalized several times.
In her thoughtful, compelling novel Call Me Zelda, author Erika Robuck craftily utilizes psychiatric nurse Anna as the narrator in a brilliant mode of storytelling. Overlapping the stories of these women establishes a wonderfully contemplative novel on mental illness, empathy and women’s ability to transform despite setbacks. The author doesn’t put herself in Zelda’s place but in the place of a close confident or caretaker to Zelda. This effectively allows some distance to remain a bit impartial and perhaps less judgmental while still empathetic.
We meet Zelda Fitzgerald and her nurse at Phipps Psychiatric Clinic at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in 1932. Zelda quickly develops a bond with Anna which, despite several misunderstandings and separations, lasts until the end of Zelda’s life. Zelda leaves the clinic and Anna becomes her personal nurse. Her treatment gets a bit murky. The focus stays more on her relationship to Scott, her own writing and creative goals and desire for some independence from her husband.
“But maybe it was my selfish desire to be needed. Maybe it was their celebrity. Deep down I knew I longed for the blissful anonymity of becoming part of the something beautiful and tragic and even historic—like a single stroke of paint on a large and detailed landscape.”
Through dense imagery, Robuck establishes the fragmented, tormented marriage between writer and muse. Scott needed Zelda more than Zelda needed Scott or did they equally play off one another? A sycophant relationship. Both had affairs. Both came back to each other again and again. Both clearly loved each other. Both caused the other pain and heartache and worry. Of Scott, Zelda tells her doctor: “he thinks he should be enough for me. He needs me to orbit him. He wishes to pluck me from orbit when he needs me and then send me back once he’s used me up.”
I immensely enjoyed Robuck’s last historical fiction novel Hemingway’s Girl and her exhaustive research and nurture for her subject comes across in Call Me Zelda. Robuck lives in Annapolis, Maryland and there’s detailed description for the area in which Anna lives and Zelda receives much of her medical treatment during the novel. At first I became a bit confused when the focus shifted from Zelda to Anna. But then I became as interested in Anna’s life as Zelda’s and understood that the women’s lives were intertwined and an enjoyable story about Zelda needn’t be completely about Zelda to function.
–review by Amy Steele
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from New American Library/Penguin.
note to Becky at One Literature Nut– thank you so much for hosting this. I hope we can do another readalong in the future. you’ve done such a fantastic job with it all.
Here’s a line that really sticks with me from Ch. 5: ” I think that voice held him most, with its fluctuating, feverish warmth, because it could’t be over-dreamed–that voice was a deathless song.”
what does that mean? Daisy’s voice holds Gatsby in reality because he’d never be able to dream about such a voice? Does he dislike hearing her speak and just want to look at her pretty face?
In Chapter 6 we’re told about Gatby’s past. He changes his name from Ganz. who can blame him. I changed my name because I didn’t like my birth name very much. So why not change your name to reflect who you want to be.
The bit about Gatby’s past is confusing. it makes you not despise Gatsy in that he worked for his money or didn’t come from money and managed to earn what he amasses in one way or another. Nick admonishes him for trying to get back to idyllic moments in the past before things changed and he lost what he had.
“He talked a lot about the past and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself, perhaps that had gone into loving Daisy.” Perhaps Gatsby no longer loves Daisy but feels that things but be easier if he could love Daisy again.
Megan Draper [Jessica Pare] wears the best clothes– vibrant, hip, fun and lovely. Peggy Olson [Elisabeth Moss] has stepped up her look to reflect her career advancement. More professional and flattering. Better color choices. I also like some of what Trudy [Alison Brie] wears. Costume Designer Katherine Jane Bryant does a brilliant job bringing the 60s to the small screen on Mad Men.
THE GUYS of MAD MEN: