A red car, 1920s-style. Detail from the book cover of THE PURSUED AND THE PURSUING by AJ Odasso.
fiction

2021 Gatsby reboot: ‘The Pursued and the Pursuing’

Book cover of "The Pursued and the Pursuing" by AJ Odasso

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel The Great Gatsby entered the public domain in the United States this year, making space for this sequel by AJ Odasso, The Pursued and the Pursuing. In this version, Jay Gatsby survives the bullet from Myrtle’s husband, and during his recovery he rekindles his old feelings for Nick Carraway (who narrates the original novel as well as this sequel). Jay and Nick reveal to each other that, in addition to having tried to settle down with women, they had brief affairs with other men, but they have never stopped thinking about each other.

That the newspaper has already run an obituary for the socialite Jay Gatsby gives him an opportunity to reinvent himself as—or, more accurately, revert himself to—his James Gatz identity. He and Nick have lots of sex, live as partners, and are cavalier about their obviousness, so people in close proximity tend to pick up that they are a couple. Meanwhile, Jay’s old girlfriend Daisy Buchanan gets back in touch. Jay and Nick don’t much care for her or her husband Tom, but they adore her teenage daughter Pam, who has her own sexuality and gender journey and becomes like a surrogate daughter to them. Thus they spend the 1930s.

Odasso’s voice in this novel is different from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, especially in the homoerotic escapades and related discussions which feel much more modern, but neither is it entirely dissimilar from Fitzgerald’s. It’s an homage, and there’s some artistic continuity in the setting, the language, and the rhythm of the sentences. It’s a good balance between familiar and speculative, breathing new life into old characters.

Do we need a gay Gatsby? Yes. Yes, we do.

The ending draws the novel gently to a close. At that point, the story feels not quite wrapped up, but perhaps nothing needs to be wrapped up. Instead, the ending draws us to a very particular place we need to be.

I received a free advance review copy from NetGalley.

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