by Gene Fant
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is among my favorite novels, precisely because I have a personal connection with its story. I had read it several times in my education, but when I landed my first high school teaching position right after graduate school, I had to teach it to eleventh graders, so I opened it afresh to prepare. I read it at my new home, a rented guest cottage on a multi-millionaire Polish duke’s estate in Virginia. It was a waterfront estate that was once a part of the property of George Washington’s ancestors. The river was a branch of the Chesapeake Bay, and on late summer evenings, I could stand on the pier and watch the parties of the wealthy underway up the shore. There were even flickering green lights at the ends of many of the piers, just like those in the harbor between the Eggs in Gatsby. At some point in my reading, I realized that I was Nick Carraway, the rather penniless observer of the wealthy. I had a view but no standing. I learned their ways, but I knew that I would unlikely have the resources actually to participate as a full-fledged member of that society. I grew to adore the novel precisely because I felt as though I were a character in it.