Tag Archives: The Great Gatsby


  • On History

    Where Daisy Buchanan Lived


    Conway Farms Golf Club, Lake Forest, IL.

    We’re out this week, but we’re re-posting some of our favorite pieces from 2012 while we’re away. We hope you enjoy—and have a happy New Year!

    In a 1940 letter to his daughter written six months before his death, F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Once I thought that Lake Forest was the most glamorous place in the world. Maybe it was.” Sixty-six years later, as I drove through the Illinois suburb that sits thirty-two miles north of the heart of Chicago’s Loop, I kept looking around and wondering to myself what exactly it was that Fitzgerald found so great. I thought about him as I drank a coffee at a Starbucks that wasn’t there the last time I’d visited, and I noticed that the McDonald’s drive-through near the Metra train station seemed to be buzzing. All the suburban trappings I recalled from a childhood spent on the North Shore of Chicago were still there. To me, Lake Forest was a place I’d gotten to know by peeking through frosted car windows on my way to early morning hockey practice as a kid. Cozy, definitely, but not exactly the sort of place I associate with the Roaring Twenties decadence and wild parties conjured by Fitzgerald’s name.

    Founded in 1861, Lake Forest, Illinois, was originally built as a college town by Presbyterians. After the Civil War, the city attracted residents whose last names were synonymous with the building (and a decade later, the post–Great Fire rebuilding) of Chicago. Thanks to its tranquility and natural beauty, as well as its isolation from main roads, Lake Forest became the Chicago metropolitan area’s most desirable neighborhood, attracting Rockefellers, Armours, Medills, and Marshall Fields. Lake Forest was the Greenwich of the Midwest: a haven for robber barons and meat packers far from the strikes, riots, and muckrakers that threatened the wealth and safety of the early twentieth century’s 1 percent. By the city’s 150th anniversary, in 2011, Lake Forest had served as the setting for a best-selling novel (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by native son Dave Eggers) and Oscar-winning film (Robert Redford’s Ordinary People). But the city’s first true claim to literary fame came in 1925, as a passing mention in the first chapter of The Great Gatsby, in which we learn from narrator Nick Carraway that Tom Buchanan has bought a string of polo ponies from Lake Forest. Carraway is amazed that a man of his own generation is wealthy enough to have done so.

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  • On the Shelf

    Rejection, Crime, and Gum


  • The three types of stories one editor tends to reject.
  • Meet the Agency Review, devoted to books on advertising.
  • The short, strange story of Gatsby gumballs.
  • Oh, dear. An (allegedly) disgruntled author was taken into custody after (allegedly) attacking a San Francisco literary agent.
  • A school project we wish were real.
  • “It was George Orwell’s golden-eyed toad that made me a writer.” Simon Schama on literary inspiration.

  • On the Shelf

    Gatsby, Sexting, and Rand


  • An original ad for The Great Gatsby, found in a 1925 issue of The Princetonian.
  • “My decade-long enamor with the poets and writers of the Beat Generation was about to pay off. As the only woman who adored Kerouac, I would be the vixen of the literary matchmaking board.” At the Millions, Stephanie Nikolopoulos on the Jack Kerouac gender divide.
  • In which Ayn Rand explains Objectivism on the Johnny Carson show. “I think you’ll find her most unusual,” says he.
  • Poet Ron Silliman lost his library in a flood; help him reassemble it.
  • O tempora: new inductions into Merriam-Webster include f bomb, man cave, and sexting. A full list here.
  • On the other hand, the more things change, et cetera. This 1950 Library Journal asks if new media is rendering reading obsolete.
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