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Publisher's Summary

Conceived nearly a century ago by a man who died believing himself a failure, it's now a revered classic and a rite of passage in the reading lives of millions. But how well do we really know The Great Gatsby? As Maureen Corrigan, Gatsby lover extraordinaire, points out, while Fitzgerald's masterpiece may be one of the most popular novels in America, many of us first read it when we were too young to fully comprehend its power.

Offering a fresh perspective on what makes Gatsby great - and utterly unusual - So We Read On takes us into archives, high school classrooms, and even out onto the Long Island Sound to explore the novel's hidden depths, a journey whose revelations include Gatsby's surprising debt to hard-boiled crime fiction, its rocky path to recognition as a "classic", and its profound commentaries on the national themes of race, class, and gender.

With rigor, wit, and infectious enthusiasm, Corrigan inspires us to re-experience the greatness of Gatsby and cuts to the heart of why we are, as a culture, "borne back ceaselessly" into its thrall. Along the way, she spins a new and fascinating story of her own.

©2014 Maureen Corrigan (P)2014 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Immensely likable, eclectic, and dynamic, Corrigan is as adept in her analysis of life as she is in her fresh and significant interpretations of books." (Booklist)
"Maureen Corrigan has produced a minor miracle: a book about The Great Gatsby that stands up to Gatsby itself." (Michael Cunningham)
"Corrigan's eclectic taste and skillful assessment of new writers as well as those long dead are particularly astute." - (USA Today)
"Corrigan is erudite without being the least bit pretentious... Dipping into Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading is a little like visiting that friend whose house is always full of books and who always sends you home with one you're excited to read." (Detroit Free-Press)
"Maureen Corrigan's brilliant Gatsby book takes you on a revealing expedition into the wilds of American literary culture. It might be called How Gatsby became "Great". An intoxicating cocktail of talent, celebrity, gangster noir, and the vicissitudes of reputation that create a classic." (Ron Rosenbaum, author of The Shakespeare Wars)
"So We Read On is a fine book on many levels, almost too many to list. This book is a love story about a book. It's an expression of love for one of the most lyrical and engaging and prescient novels in the English language. Maureen Corrigan writes not only with passion about her subject, she writes with an understanding of America and the elusive goal represented by the green light on Daisy's dock." (James Lee Burke)
"A brilliant and funny narrative of [Corrigan's] own reading life . . . Utterly original." (Chicago Tribune)
"With her infectious enthusiasm, no one is better at bringing a book to life than Maureen Corrigan. Her vividly personal evocation of Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby is at once a labor of love, the story of a quest, and a mother lode of information and insight. As a biography of a novel, it reads like a novel." (Morris Dickstein, author of Gates of Eden and Dancing in the Dark)

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She's no beautiful little fool . . .

Any additional comments?

This is another one where the author interview on "Fresh Air" made me want to get the book. Maureen Corrigan certainly knows her stuff, and she conveys the information in a manner that's entertaining - not at all dry. Quite an enjoyable listen.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Aptos, CA, United States
  • 10-06-14

Reading Gatsby as an adult reveals its greatness!

Would you listen to So We Read On again? Why?

I recently returned to The Great Gatsby and was shocked by its greatness and relevance that I did not appreciate when I first read the novel as a younger man. Like the author states, The Great Gatsby reveals something new every time that a reader reads it again. <br/><br/>I will return to this book again after reading Gatsby again.

What did you like best about this story?

The author brings in her own experiences of reading and seeing Gatsby performed on stage, as a movie as well as a teacher. This brings a dimension to the analysis that is usually lacking in literary analysis.

Have you listened to any of Maureen Corrigan’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I did not know Maureen Corrigan before purchasing this audio. I was surprised by the enthusiasm of the performer and checked who she was. Ah, the author is the performer which is absolutely perfect because the enthusiasm and delivery is so pitch perfect for this book. It is rare to find a commentary on a work to be as lively, intelligent and insightful as this. (Other great commentaries on classics: Professor Drout's work on Tolkien and Chaucer are great, Harold Bloom's "How to Read and Why")The passion of the performance comes from the passion for The Great Gatsby. The research done on Fitzgerald, the 1920s and the novel itself were all obviously done out of a love of the book, so it never feels like an imposed dry and didactic thesis paper.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The portions of Fitzgerald's life story that reflect elements of the book make the book even more poignant.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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The Great American Novel: An Orgastic Argument

Professor Corrigan, book critic for NPR and Georgetown professor, loves THE GREAT GATSBY, as do I. I devoured her delightful, didactic book on how and why it's the **Great American Novel** because, among other things, it splendidly captured Americans' quotidian desires for the *American dream,* our desire for desire ("there are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired") and our quixotic belief, or perhaps subconscious romanticizing, that we can somehow recapture or relive the past, especially past loves (as Gatsby said to Nick, "Can't repeat the past? ... Why of course you can!").


------- "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--to-morrow we will run faster, stretch our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning------

-------- "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."


Ms. Corrigan also provides a scintillating exploration of the author's tragic life and death and why, like many supremely talented artists before him, F. Scott Fitzgerald died in the depths of depression and perceived by himself and many others as a mediocre, has-been, with the splendor of his masterpiece unrecognized (by most) until several years after his death and yet endures as the most studied piece of literature in U.S. secondary education.

I highly recommend this book if you enjoyed The Great Gatsby or if you are fascinated with early 20th century America.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • KB
  • 11-15-17

Exquisite - A Journey Into Fitzgerald and Gatsby

It’s been a few years since I read Gatsby and a friend recommended this book to me.

It’s a wonderful book excellently read by the author.

Enough review though... I’ve dug out my 20 year old paperback of Gatsby and I’m starting to reread it and revel in it.

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Eckleburg's Ears

If you could sum up So We Read On in three words, what would they be?

Gatsby. Fangirl. Party.

What did you like best about this story?

The analysis of the Great Gatsby and its incorporation into the comparison between it and America's beginnings and what America has become. Great cultural study.

What about Maureen Corrigan’s performance did you like?

Her passion for the topic came through.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me want to read the Great Gatsby again, and it certainly made me appreciate it more.

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My new favorite book on Audible

Both the book and Corrigan's reading of her work are worthy of high praise. It was almost as wonderful as reading The Great Gatsby itself.

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  • Lilac
  • South Portland, ME
  • 07-17-16

Thoroughly enjoyed this!

This was a pleasure to listen to. It accompanied me everywhere. Sometimes I'd put it down for a while
thinking it would be hard to pick up again but Corrigan always lured be back in with her enthusiasm for Fitzgerald and the interesting asides she would add. This was not a dry analysis but a story in itself. Her love for The Great Gatsby and its author is infectious. I'm definitely going to read it again. Maureen Corrigan is right. Every time you read the novel you see something different.

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Didn't think she could pull it off...but she did. Fascinating and insightful throughout

It's a great portrait of Fitzgerald, his wife, and the world of publishing. Bravo, bravo! Wish I'd published this book.

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Lovely

I was unfamiliar with Corrigan but this have insightful background information, interesting biographical accounts, and made my re-reading of Gatsby more nuanced and aware. If readers could reply, Corrigan would have her Gatsby seminar at last.

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Literary criticism for everyone

The world needs more books like "So We Read On." There are many brilliant minds writing about the meaning and significance of great literature, but because they're writing to an academic audience in language laden with jargon, their important message is never heard by those who most need to hear it.

Corrigan's masterful melding of criticism, biography, and cultural commentary brings "The Great Gatsby" alive in a way that neither a dusty academic journal not a Hollywood blockbuster can do. Insightful yet entertaining, I hope this book serves as a model for other "biographies" of great literary works. Gatsby lives!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful