If Baz Luhrmann's 3D version of The Great Gatsby (opening tonight!) makes a billion trillion dollars, there will be a couple people to thank. 1. Leonardo DiCaprio, obviously. 2. Jay-Z. 3. F. Scott Fitzgerald and the hordes of angsty teenagers who have read and read and read The Great Gatsby over and over again until they inevitably became English majors. Because while sure, Gatsby is the tale of the destruction of the American Dream and about 20 other things you could write your thesis on, it is also a great and tragic love story, the kind that teenagers innately understand. The kind that Baz Luhrmann can't help but make into a movie.
I was one of those hordes of admirers. I read Gatsby in many English classes, throughout my many years of school. But when I was 17, I read it in an English class in South Africa, where I was an exchange student. While I have always had a penchant for fan fiction (I did a pretty reasonable rewrite of the end of Little Women when I was about 12, in which Laurie and Jo end up together AND EVERYTHING IS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD), on the occasion of my second reading of Gatsby, during the turmoil of 8 months in one of the scariest, loneliest places I had ever been, I was moved to write a super dramatic love letter in place of an essay for class. I've saved the letter because a) I love The Great Gatsby and b) it's interesting to see what I thought about love back before I'd ever been in love. Spoiler: pretty much the same way I do now. Double spoiler: I'm into nautical metaphors.
What follows is my letter from Gatsby to Daisy, written sometime in 1999 or 2000. Dear Baz Luhrmann: Do not let this precious 17-year-old down.