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May 10, 2017

Book Notes - Jaime Clarke "F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby"

F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Jaime Clarke's F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is another insightful entry in Ig Publishing's Bookmarked series, where writers discuss a literary work that has influenced their writing life.

If you buy the book directly from its publisher, Ig Publishing, Jaime will send you a free limited edition paperback of his novel The Disappearance of Swenson's Secretary, a Golden Age detective novel written by Jaime and featuring F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary agent, Harold Ober, as an amateur sleuth.

In his own words, here is Jaime Clarke's Book Notes music playlist for his book F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby:

When I pitched The Great Gatsby to the editor of the Bookmarked series, his response was something along the lines of his not being sure what there was left to say about Fitzgerald's masterpiece. He couldn't know how much of a blueprint it was for my life during my more formidable years, to borrow a phrase. The particular genius in a classic work of any kind allows the average person to see him or herself within, and Gatsby was that and more for me in my late teens and twenties and thirties. An alternate title for my contribution to this series could be Poor Man's Gatsby and here is the soundtrack from a time in my life when I was sure life was a tragic and romantic proposition full of wild promise.

Alphaville – "The Jet Set"

"Forever Young" is the biggest cut from this album, which was the impetus for driving to the other side of Phoenix to the record store that carried imports, but the whole record is like a perfect short story collection. In particular, the segue from the penultimate track into "The Jet Set" is the audio equivalent of hearing your blood pulse through your body. The song made me want to host parties, if only to blare it through the speakers.

Depeche Mode – "Everything Counts"

A capitalist anthem. Or rather a criticism of capitalism. But we all wanted to be capitalists back them. Money seemed like an equalizer, and attainable to anyone who desired it.

Arcadia – "Election Day"

The idea that a popular band like Duran Duran could hatch an alter ego leant itself to the idea of reinvention for the sake of reinvention swirling around my brain, even if it was difficult to hear any difference between the two bands. And also because Simon le Bon is attributed with one of the truest maxims ever uttered: "You know why rock stars marry models? Because they can."

Johnny Hates Jazz – "Shattered Dreams"

Overwrought emotions set to a catchy tune. For whatever reason, this song reminds me of speeding down the freeway in the red Nissan Pulsar NX I insisted on having in high school, part of my reinvention (regardless of the outrageous monthly payments), the T-tops removed, the night air rushing by.

Roxette – "The Look"

Surface, surface, surface.

When in Rome – "The Promise"

Most of the sentiment of The Great Gatsby is captured herein. Another example of how easily pop music infuses our minds with romanticism.

Sly Fox – "Let's Go All the Way"

The implicit promise in the lyrics is that only the weak are bound by the society's limitations and it's the dreamers who will prevail, if they have the fortitude to stick it out, which was exactly what I wanted to hear back then.

New Order – "True Faith"

This song bestows a sense of exceptionalism on the listener, regardless of fact. The quest to be original and exceptional was the end all, be all of the Gatsby dream.

Scritti Politti – "Perfect Way"

Again, the chorus is full of hubris and exceptionalism. I'm not sure I ever knew any of the other lyrics.

Men Without Hats – "Pop Goes the World"

"Johnny and Jenny had a crazy dream/See their pictures in a magazine." Enough said.

Jaime Clarke and F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby links:

the author's website

Brooklyn Rail interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Vernon Downs
Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist by the author for World Gone Wrong

also at Largehearted Boy:

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