Jewusiak reimagines an American classic by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
With his debut novel, Jewusiak takes a postmodern jackhammer to The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald’s most famous work. Nick Carramel is an anti-Semite. Delsey and Jillian deconstruct the metaphors of the story as they introduce them. James Landzman, a former soldier and circus acrobat who performed under the moniker “The Great Gatsby,” is even more inscrutable and laden with symbolism than Fitzgerald’s creation. These bizarro versions of Nick Carraway and company spend the book discussing modernist literature, capitalism, and the American dream while a narrator (not Carramel) denigrates the characters and speculates on which actors might be best to portray them in a film version. Some segments of the book are essentially essays on topics like the nature of myth; others are epistolary findings from the files of the characters, included by the narrator in an attempt to reach the (unreachable) truth of Landzman’s true nature. Cloaked in Lemony Snicket–esque layers of metafiction, Jewusiak, the narrator, Landzman, Carramel, Fitzgerald, and Jay Gatsby himself begin to merge into one tangled archetype of American power, deception, authorship, and authority. Jewusiak has an indisputable talent for language, invoking Fitzgerald as he spins his own rambling poetry: “The big spenders, the high rollers, the small town boosters chomping down on the big sloppy wet cigars, gathered like a great host from the provinces, the backwaters and boondocks to get plastered on the distilled spirits of exhilaration.” At over 400 pages, the book is twice the length of Gatsby, though its thesis is far less discernible. The author’s explanation of his project in the postscript includes words for would-be critics and advice for those unamused by his work (“the majority of people don’t find what I say funny either, so you have a lot of company; join the Gestapo”). Readers will decide for themselves whether the book is funny or not, but Jewusiak’s particular arguments are largely lost in the morass. In the end, the reader is confident only that the author remains angry at a lot of people, including, perhaps, the reader.
A dense and confusing parody of The Great Gatsby.