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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, April 2013 - I knew I always liked The Great Gatsby, but having not read it since high school, I couldn’t remember exactly why. After listening to Jake Gyllenhaal’s superb narration, I was reminded of what I found so great about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic. Gyllenhaal strikes the right chord as, Nick Carraway, who exists within the hyper-privileged world of Long Island’s upper crust but manages to avoid becoming jaded and swept up by the materialism of his cousin, Daisy, and the titular Gatsby. Fitzgerald’s elegant yet simple prose still holds up, and Gyllenhaal treats it with the utmost respect, allowing the vivid descriptions of mansions, landmarks, and 1920s New York to flow at just the right pace. While ultimately tragic, The Great Gatsby is full of light and beautiful moments that kindle a nostalgia for the Roaring Twenties, and I was glad to have been reintroduced to a favorite book this way.

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Finalist, Classic, 2013

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic American novel of the Roaring Twenties is beloved by generations of readers and stands as his crowning work. This new audio edition, authorized by the Fitzgerald estate, is narrated by Oscar-nominated actor Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain). Gyllenhaal's performance is a faithful delivery in the voice of Nick Carraway, the Midwesterner turned New York bond salesman, who rents a small house next door to the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby. There, he has a firsthand view of Gatsby’s lavish West Egg parties - and of his undying love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan.

After meeting and losing Daisy during the war, Gatsby has made himself fabulously wealthy. Now, he believes that his only way to true happiness is to find his way back into Daisy’s life, and he uses Nick to try to reach her. What happens when the characters’ fantasies are confronted with reality makes for a startling conclusion to this iconic masterpiece.

This special audio edition joins the upcoming film - as well as many other movie, radio, theater, and even video-game adaptations - as a fitting tribute to the cultural significance of Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age classic, widely regarded as one of the greatest stories ever told.

©1925 Charles Scribner's Sons. Copyright renewed 1953 by Frances Scott Fitzgerald Lanahan (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 04-09-13

Simple, Beautiful, and Exquisitely Textured

I am a ravenous reader. I consume books (audio, electronic, and paper) by the pound and byte. I RARELY go back and reread a novel I've read before. It just seems a waste of time, a waste of an opportunity for another book, another story. The Great Gatsby, however, is one of those handful of books, those rare literary jewels, where this rule of thumb is consistently bent and re-broken. For readers of good literature, this novel is like scripture. IT is something you read to enjoy the page, the paragraphs, the sentences, the words. It draws you back. It haunts future books you read. It invades you.

For American Literature, The Great Gatsby stands with 'Moby-Dick' and 'Huckleberry Finn' as a monument of not just literature but the uniquely American experience. It captures the excess, the energy, and the decadence of the 'Lost Generation'. Other Fitzgerald books are amazing, but Gatsby is one of those novels that seems to have surprised everyone, even Fitzgerald.

Finding the right narrator for any book is an art form (often misunderstood, almost always ignored). Certain books require a certain type of reader. Gyllenhaal was an inspired pick for the Great Gatsby. He has the range to subtly capture the different characters, but the charisma and the energy to embody the dialogue of Gatsby and the easygoing narrator Nick.

153 of 165 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Revisit an Old Friend

Fitzgerald's classic written in simple prose tells the story of the upper crust's frivolity from the point of view of an outsider looking in. You relive the pretense, wastefulness, desire to fit in and aching loneliness lurking within all.

Gyllenhaal embodies Nick so well, you see him as the mild wallflower character instead of the handsome, charming actor. Well read.

For $5 and 2.5 hours of time (on 2X speed) this is a great way to revisit a classic or prep for the movie.

57 of 63 people found this review helpful

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  • Todd
  • Grand Junction, CO, United States
  • 05-28-13

Impressed with Jake's reading

Where does The Great Gatsby rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the best. I've listened to it twice now, the older version when I was re-reading it before going to see the movie and immediately after seeing the movie because I found the critical reception upseting. I thought for a movie trying to remake The Great Gatsby the movie was pretty dead on. I know it was Lermany (like my new word) but of course it was. With a story as brash as The Great Gatsby, Lerman needed to be over the top and I think that Fitzgerald would have been pleased. But, I digress. I thought Gyllenhaal's reading was very well done -- understated, not too emotional, but easy to follow.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Gatsby. How can it not be Gatsby?

What does Jake Gyllenhaal bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The ability to listen to the book in the garden, in the car... everything that a good audio book can give you, this gave me.

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

Yes, (SPOILER ALERT) the funeral and that no one showed up.

Any additional comments?

Such a classic in American literature. If you haven't read or listened to this since your high school days, you really should. You will have a much better perspective now than you did in high school, well, at least I did.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Lauren
  • San Diego, CA, USA
  • 04-24-13

Gyllenhaal is an incredible narrator

Where does The Great Gatsby rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This has to be one of my top ten favorites - no one can deny that this is one of the greatest American novels ever written.
There's a reason we all have to read it in high school, although lamentably we're mostly too young to understand it very meaningfully at that age.

What did you like best about this story?

Impossible to say - the myriad interpretations offered by various symbols; the forgiving and compassionate way human folly, hypocrisy, and unthinking offhand cruelty are portrayed throughout the book; the equanimity of the narrator; the rich detail of the descriptions of wasteful yet magical opulence; the heartbreaking, love-soaked idealism of Gatsby juxtaposed with the completely amoral and brutal source of the income with which he intended to pursue Daisy; ok so this is already too long and you didn't read it.
My review is really about supposed to be about Jake Gyllenhaal.

What does Jake Gyllenhaal bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

In short, his narration allowed me to fall in love with the characters.

Jake Gyllenhaal lends a quality to Nick's telling of the story that provides insight into varied aspects of the book - things I would not have understood quite as richly as a female reader with only a page in front of me.

He brings phrases such as "old sport" to life without the cartoonish and annoying cadence my brain would have imposed on them.

His voice is perfect for this. He's at just the right age to play Nick, whose point of view is so essential, and he perfectly portrays Nick's character as earnest, thoughtful, self-aware, unblinkingly critical, and yet still compassionate.
Gyllenhaal also has a more than impressive vocal range to bring the various other characters vividly to life. His portrayal of female characters is notably nuanced.

I'll be listening to anything and everything else he chooses to read.

Any additional comments?

Jake, please keep reading stuff so I can listen to it!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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'Those illusions that give such color to the world

It's possible that the greatest common factor among audible listeners (besides that we all love books) is this statement: "I think we had to read that in high school...and I didn't like it." Seems like there are the *under-threat* readers of The Great Gatsby, and the ones that named the first pet they owned as an adult Daisy or Gatsby. With my basset hound Zeb looking on, I did finally read this as an adult, then made room on that shelf next to Huck Finn, Hester Prynne, Tom Joad, Ahab, Atticus (and Poe's Raven).

You couldn't have a Gatsby today because so much of our response to literature is based on our bias, beliefs, knowledge, and experience. Or at least not without an understanding of the incredible and tumultuous time in history, the Jazz Age, that Gatsby occupied. [Today--Jimmy Gatz would buy his status/identity--get a stylist and a promoter; instagram photos with celebs at his lavish parties, pay for celebrity buddies, show off his crib and million $ cars on TV, engineer the release of a sex tape, get a reality show, and finally win his love's heart with a 10 carat engagement ring. Daisy, famous for nothing, would be tripping over her 6 1/2" red-soled heels to get to him; she would then have a very public dirty divorce from Tom that would play out in all of the celebrity gossip rags-including plenty of selfies and pictures of his numerous mistresses, then maybe onto a stint on DWTS. When Gatsby finally realizes that Daisy is as shallow as the pool he is floating in, and--*of course you CAN'T repeat the past*--he would drown his crumbling dreams in booze, alcohol, and reckless behaviors, thumb his nose at the legal system, lose his money and fans, go through rehab several times...]
At today's pace, Gatsby would just be The Really Really Good Gatsby; the story would seem minimally inventive and somewhat trivial. But Gatsby in Fitzgerald's masterly hands is timeless.

If, from your previous HS experience, you doubt that this is one of the greatest American novels, you may be surprised by the broader insightfulness you've earned since those days. Fitzgerald lived both sides of the generation he judged. Like the very best authors, his stories pour out from his mind with an honesty and authenticity that shine with a superior genius, tempered with absolute artistic control of their craft. This is one of the few books that has defined my reading experience.

The narration is such a big factor with this version. I doubt there is anyone that could have given a more inspired reading than Gyllenhaal; he was amazing not only when he was in character, but he impressed me so much with his reading of the body of the story, as if he felt a reverence for Fitzgerald's words.

"That's the whole burden of this novel--the loss of those illusions that give such color to the world so that you don't care whether things are true or false as long as they partake of the magical glory." - - F.S. Fitzgerald on The Great Gatsby





60 of 73 people found this review helpful

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  • Dave
  • Whittier, CA
  • 09-02-13

Thought It Might Sober Me Up to Listen to Gatsby

I more or less enjoyed reading Gatsby back in high school. Reading it now as an adult, it’s easy to see why the book is considered such a classic. It’s a critique of the American Dream – that you can become whatever you want to be. It’s a story of the disenfranchised taking a shot, and being put down for it. It has a memorable cast of characters – most of them loathsome (Tom Buchanan most of all – he’s a raging knot of contradictions, and a great foil for Gatsby). There’s some intense social commentary – part of what we loathe so much about Tom is his classism and racism. The former I think has probably been easy for Americans to loathe for a long time; the latter is easy for us to loathe today, but keep in mind this book was written in the 20s, a good 40 years before the Civil Rights movement. (You go, Fitzgerald!) Also, and this is emphasized in the audio format – it’s a very short, economic book, and at under 5 hours, packs a pretty mean punch.

Some things that I didn’t appreciate so much as a 14 or 17 year-old which I found fascinating as an adult: that the whole story is set during Prohibition, and what a bizarre and broken era that was. There was so much booze flowing, so much partying, so much philandering…it’s ridiculous to me that the United States thought it would be moral to outlaw alcohol. I was also surprised by how funny it was when it wasn’t such a downer – particularly at Gatsby’s parties. There’s a scene where we find a man sitting in the library of Gatsby’s house and the stranger says: “I’ve been drunk for about a week now and I thought it might sober me up to sit in a library.” That line just tickles me in so many ways, and I enjoyed discovering Fitzgerald’s sense of humor this time out.

Jake Gyllenhaal gives a very solid narration as Nick Carraway, our portal into Gatsby’s world, who proclaims he’s “the only honest man he’s ever met.” Gyllenhaal’s performance isn’t a flashy one, and I think that’s a wise choice on his part – it matches the understated power of the book, and let’s Fitzgerald’s prose carry the story. He’s received a lot of praise for his reading of this novel, and it’s well-deserved.

The Great Gatsby continues to be a serious book with a lot on it’s mind, and was a treat to revisit.

(Originally published at the AudioBookaneers)

28 of 34 people found this review helpful

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Pitfalls of celebrity narration

Any additional comments?

Jake Gyllenhaal's vocal quality is perfectly adequate to convey Nick's story, but unfortunately there are several passages that are read incorrectly (i.e., with emphasis on the wrong words or phrases) and presumably the director didn't call these out because Jake Gyllenhaal is a BIG STAR. I am compelled to recommend the late great Frank Muller's narration over this one.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Boring

Classic literature is one of my favorite genres, but I had a hard time sinking into this. I had never read The Great Gatsby before and I have not seen the movie. I'm not sure if it was the story or the narrator, but I think it was the latter. No offense to Jake Gyllenhaal but he has to be one of the most boring narrators I've listened to. The cadence of his voice made me want to sleep and half way through the book, I was still reluctant to see it to the end. I also had a hard time discerning whether some dialogue was intended to be tongue in cheek or serious, and I think that was the narrator as well. There are a lot of positive reviews, so I might try this again with a traditional book rather than an audio book.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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A masterpiece that never gets old

Where does The Great Gatsby rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the best, I own the book but Gyllenhal adds something to the narration that just reading it doesnt have.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Great Gatsby?

The ending of course, I wont spoil anything for people who havent read it or havent read it in a very long time.

What does Jake Gyllenhaal bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His performance slowly changes through out the book portraying the subtle nuances of the characters change from the beginning to the emotional end.

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

The end made me cry. This book is in no way a happy book, no one is actually happy and every choice each character makes just nudges them closer to the explosive end.

Any additional comments?

If you havent already, wait to watch the movie till you at least read the book. The 2013 version not the crappy old versions.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Best Narration I've Heard

The story is an acknowledged classic of American literature. The surprise for me was Jake Gyllenhaal. He does a really great job. He stands out for me as the best narrator of the 50 or so audiobooks I've listened to.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful