I've just finished reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I know, how have I managed to get through 40 years of life without reading the great American novel? Well, I think part of the reason why is exactly that - at some level, part of me thought "why should I read this just because it's supposed to be so good?" But a friend of mine, whose opinion on all things literary I greatly respect, often cites Gatsby to demonstrate techniques of characterisation, pacing, plot development, and so on. So I finally gave it a go. And you know what? It is good. A genuinely evocative period piece, with compelling characters. So there. I've given my verdict on an accepted classic. Next week I'll deliver my views on Shakespeare (not bad - could do with more quotable lines).
The thing is, to me the most intriguing of all the characters in Gatsby isn't the eponymous anti-hero, nor is it Mr Carraway, the narrator, but Daisy Buchanan, a character I've just read described on one website as a "manipulative jazz-age socialite", an epithet that seems about right to me. And I've also just read that in the forthcoming Baz Luhrmann adaptation, Daisy will be played by Carey Mulligan (left). And this is where my problem lies. Don't get me wrong, I think Mulligan is great, and especially terrific in An Education. But I don't look at her and think she's right for Daisy. The two just don't go together in my head. But then looking down the proposed cast list, I don't envisage Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby either, and I certainly can't reconcile the idea of Isla Fisher as Myrtle Wilson. In fact, the only bit of casting that feels right is Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway. Beyond that though, my biggest problem is Carey as Daisy - she just seems too sweet, too nice to be able to convey that manipulative, exploitative streak that Daisy shows increasingly as the story progresses. I guess Miss Mulligan will just have to act her socks off.
The trouble is, I then tried to think who I would cast as Daisy. And you know what - I couldn't decide. The nearest I could come up with that started to feel right was Maggie Gyllenhaal (right), and even then, well, I couldn't really see Daisy in her. So what do you think? Any suggestions?