A single copy of The Great Gatsby begets another novel.
In a Los Angeles Public Library branch there’s a copy of 813.52 FIT—aka The Great Gatsby. Over some 50 years it will be checked out and read by the main characters in this first novel. As the book opens, it's the present day. An unemployed actor is lying by a pool at the Fairfax Apartments complex waiting for a call about a possible job on a television series. The book sits on a table in his apartment, “just down the road from where [Fitzgerald] died.” His story is one of six, alternating and twisting back and forth in time like trains passing in the night. In 1964, two high school seniors ditch school to hike in the mountains outside LA. They get lost. Dorothy Latham checked this novel out long ago for her husband, George, a professor at a local college. For years he’s been writing and composing a musical based on it, One Fine Morning. In the early 1990s, there’s a talented high school baseball player, Mike Allison, who has a dream of playing for the Los Angeles Angels. In the only first-person narration, an unnamed man tells the story of his cousin, Billy Goodwin, who was "a real dreamer,” like Gatsby. In 2005, Billy goes missing after his employer, a famous perfumer, is found dead. In 2000, Felicity becomes pregnant as a young woman and has a boy, Nick. She raises him as she tries for years to make something of herself. Only once do two of the characters meet. Watching a volleyball game in 2014 between schools they work for, Felicity and the cousin briefly discuss the novel and then part: “Our lives intersect that way, little coincidences that we never know.” This is at the heart of Rogers’ ambitious and thoughtful book.
Infused with subtle, evocative details, each story beautifully, quietly beats on against time’s current.