I spent yesterday evening sitting alongside a soccer field in Corinna, Maine. In the interstices of play, I was reading The Great Gatsby, which seems to me to be almost perfectly constructed, not only structurally but in the balance of its sentences, in Nick's perceptions, in the interplay of setting and dialogue, in the shifts of comedy and tragedy, and so on, and so on.
As for Tom, the fact that he "had some woman in New York" was really less surprising than that he had been depressed by a book. Something was making him nibble at the edge of stale ideas as if his sturdy physical egotism no longer nourished his peremptory heart.Oddly, even though I admire this novel enormously, I would never think to include it in my "favorite books of all time" list . . . not that I exactly know what I'd include there either, but I do think that most of my favorites are a lot messier than Gatsby is. (I'd make an exception for Austen, of course.) Even my modernist loves (Woolf, Bowen, Green) seem to bleed structurally in a way that Gatsby does not. Still, despite the fact that I have read it roughly one hundred times over the course of my life, I am always delighted by its cleanness and its clarity. Reading Gatsby is like eating an oyster.