Under the Red White and Blue: Patriotism, Disenchantment and the Stubborn Myth of the Great Gatsby, by Greil Marcus (Yale University Press, 176 pp., $26)
Sometimes a short book casts a long shadow. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s slim 1925 novel The Great Gatsby looms large in American culture: It has sold well over 25 million copies and spawned film adaptations ranging from a lost silent movie to A-list productions with Redford and DiCaprio. There’s a Gatsby opera, a forthcoming graphic novel, and even a retro computer game in the style of the original Nintendo. It wasn’t always canonical literature — like many classics, the book was widely considered a flop until after the author’s death — but now this gem of the Jazz Age is a contender for our Great American Novel, its lush prose and bittersweet melancholy perfectly balancing the tabloid ending to its tragic plot.