Monday, May 13, 2013

Book vs. Movie: "The Great Gatsby"

Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan
     Today after school I met up with a friend, changed into a homemade flapper dress,cloche, and Art Deco earrings, and headed to the cinema at Union Square 14th street to see - what else? -  the Great Gatsby.  I had been looking forward to this moment for a long time, ever since I put down my copy of the book over a month ago.
     The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a real American classic, and I think everyone interested in seeing the movie should read it first.  It's about this dreamy, almost foolishly optimistic young man who calls himself Gatsby and the crazy things he does out of love for Daisy Buchanan, his teenage sweetheart, who is now married to a powerful but unfaithful heir.  One of the most striking things about it, besides the amazing portrayal of this crazy time in history, is how brutally honest and relatable the story is even after all these years.  Gatsby's perennial and unshakable optimism and love will strike a chord with anyone.  Everyone has known a Daisy or two in their lifetime.  And everyone will feel something cold deep in their gut as they read the final line of page 154.
     It also has a great deal of beautiful imagery and metaphor, if you're interested in that sort of thing.  I am, but most people aren't so I won't bore you with my theories :)
     Now I guess I should repeat that anthem that book lovers everywhere whine each time they step out of the movie theater after watching the adaptation of a favorite book.  No, Great Gatsby the movie was not as good as the book - but it was pretty damn close.  The makers of the movie were very delicate and intelligent about the changes they made in translating the story onto the screen.  They made very few changes to the plot - instead, they made more aesthetic changes to give the movie a timeless quality.  Each scene had an ethereal and otherworldly quality to it; the colors were sharper, the people more striking, the parties hyperboles in themselves.  Much of Gatsby's score was actually modern music with a 20s' twist - different rhythms, different voices, that sort of thing.  All of these little tweaks added up to a feel that was part historical, part futuristic, and part magical.  I guess the best way to describe this movie would be to call it a fairy tale.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Getting Ahold of Books When You're Broke

     When a girl begins to run low on bat mitzvah money or retirement savings, what's the first thing she worries about?  Not how she is going to pay the mortgage or finance her online shopping, no; she wonders where her books are going to be coming from.
      And with good reason, too.  Ninety-five percent of bookworms perish miserably within 48 hours of finishing their last book and being unable to afford another.  How can we end these senseless deaths and avoid meeting the same fate ourselves?  By sourcing reading material from the venues listed below, of course.
          1.  Second-Hand Stores: It may take a while to dig past the crappy mysteries and romance novels slightly creepy covers, but once you do, you may find some really great books, some for under a dollar each!
          2.  Library Sales: A library sale is when a library wants to get rid of its old books, so it decides to sell them all for really cheap.  I go to one every year in upstate New York that lets you take as many as can fit in your bag for $5.  Awesome.
          3.  Outside People's Houses:  This is like dumpster-diving for books, except without the dirt and dumpsters, and it works especially well if you live in a house-type-neighborhood with lots of foot traffic.  I have neighbors who leave stacks of old books on their front porch for anyone to take.  I've picked up The Lord of the Rings as well as some books by Jane Austen that I didn't even know existed this way.
          4.  Your Friends: I have lent and borrowed more books than I can count, and - guess what? - it's always free!
          5. The Library: This may seem like an obvious choice to most people, and I guess it is.  My one problem with libraries is that you have to return the books, without mucking them up, and within a specific time frame.  The same goes for option #4, come to think of it.
          6.  Teachers: Your English teacher will be so pleasantly surprised you like reading that she will probably supply you with as many books as you want for the rest of the year.  And they actually give really good book suggestions.  They went to college for a reason, guys! ; )
          7. The E-Reader: I suggest this only as a last resort, because I am convinced e-readers were sent from Hell to obliterate my paper-bound babies from this blessed Earth.  If you are utterly broke, you have my permission to read on your friends' or family members' Kindles, because it is better to do that than to not read at all.
(If you have a Nook but no money to buy books, sell your damn Nook and use that money to buy books!)