1book140's Great Gatsby Month: Read the Book and Watch All Four Films

The May discussion schedule for our Twitter book club


We broke with tradition this month and appointed a book by fiat. Before roasting me in effigy for this dictatorial move, please note that when I queried bookies over Twitter a few weeks ago, I received unanimous, and enthusiastic replies: Yes, all you longtime 1book140 readers said, let's read the Great Gatsby in May, and watch the Possibly Not Quite as Great Gatsby Baz Luhrman extravaganza as well. The people, as far as I'm concerned, have spoken.

So what follows is both a tentative discussion and viewing schedule. Viewing, because there are four Gatsby movies, by my count (though only three are extant), and tentative because if we want to rearrange it a bit, that suits me fine.

I thought we'd divide the book into four parts, per usual:

• May 1 through 8: Discuss Chapters 1, 2 & 3 at #1b140_1

• May 9 through 15: Discuss Chapters 4 & 5 at #1b140_2

• May 16 through 22: Discuss Chapters 6 & 7 at #1b140_3

• May 23 through 31: Discuss Chapters 8 & 9 at #1b140_4

Most of us, of course, will be rereading Gatsby. It's also a short book. Many of us, in other words, will want to discuss the book in its entirety. As we've done in the past, a general discussion can be had at #1b140_x.

Now, for the movies: Gatsby has been, thus far, an unlucky vehicle for some of Hollywood's greatest talents. The 1926 production, filmed a mere two years after the novel's publication. Starring George Powell, the movie was largely based on the Gatsby theater adaptation. It is, sadly, a lost film. The trailer, at least, can be viewed here.

• We might, instead, start our viewing with the largely forgotten 1949 adaptation starring Alan Ladd and Shelley Winters. It is, if nowhere else, viewable on Youtube. Discuss at #1Gatz140_1.

• Rather than work our way chronologically through the films, I suggest we jump to the Decaprio, Maguire, Lurhman 3D spectacle, which opens May 10. Discuss at #1Gatz140_2.

• Finally, let's end the month by watching the widely panned 1974 production starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. Vincent Canby, writing for the New York Times, called it "as lifeless as a body that's been too long at the bottom of a swimming pool." If nothing else, however, the movie features wonderful set and costume design.

A month of Gatsby. As always happy reading, and viewing!
Presented by

Jeff Howe is a professor of journalism at Northeastern University in Boston and a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard. He helps run @1book140, The Atlantic's Twitter book club. More

Jeff Howe is a professor of journalism at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts and a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He previously worked as a contributing editor at Wired Magazine, where he covered the media and entertainment industries. In June 2006 he published "The Rise of Crowdsourcing" in Wired. In September 2008 he published a book on the subject for Random House. The book has been translated into 11 languages. Before coming to Wired in 2001 he was a senior editor at Inside.com and a writer at the Village Voice. In his 20 years as a journalist he has traveled around the world working on stories ranging from the impending water crisis in Central Asia to the implications of gene patenting. He has written for Time, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post, Mother Jones and numerous other publications. He lives in Cambridge with his wife and two children.

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