Despite taking some fourth-year university courses on the Modernists, I have never read anything by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I'm now disappointed that I've gone all of these years without his voice in my head. (Thank you, Crash Course, for finally making me pick up his work.)Fitzgerald writes beautiful sentences. This is a much stronger compliment that it may first seem. So much of writing today, including my own, doesn't consciously use the beautiful, painterly colours of rhetoric and syntax. Fitzgerald also manages to balance the beautiful, meditative narration of Nick Carraway with the sharp, thoughtless dialogue of the characters he's describing.I found that it was the beauty of Fitzgerald's writing that carried me along, more than concern about the characters. Most of the characters in The Great Gatsby are not "likeable". But it must be born in mind that "unlikeable" does not mean uninteresting. (See John Green's first Gatsby video for more on this.)In fact, I'm interested in seeking out more works by Fitzgerald, because if he can impress me this much with unsympathetic characters, I can't wait to find out how he can affect me when he wants me to identify with the people inhabiting his stories.There's a lot of interest in Gatsby in the bookstore these days, with the new Baz Luhrmann movie on the horizon. In reading the book, I was amused to find that I couldn't get Leonard Dicaprio out of my head. Sadly, this probably adds to my inability to sympathize with the character -- Dicaprio is another of those actors I just can't like in a movie -- except What's Eating Gilbert Grape: I loved him in that.I'm interested to see the Baz Luhrmann film, simply because the visuals will be fantastic, but because so much of the power of the book is in its language, something that does not translate easily to the screen, I do wonder whether it will just frustrate me.As for the plot itself, while the characters are unsympathetic, we can nevertheless empathize with them. Like Gatsby, we have all wanted to recreate a lost moment of near-perfection. We can see our own faults in Gatsby, in Daisy, in Tom, in Nick. And perhaps, with them as shipmates, we may someday case to "beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."CateThis review also appears at Boxes of Paper.