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March 2nd, 2006

The Great Gatsby

Posted by natdavauer in Around the World

The technological restrictions of our particular hostel have led to an interesting situation. Internet access is limited and therefore we can’t spend entire days online as we would at home. Luckily, there are bootleg DVDs that can be purchased for a dollar. This would seem to be the solution to the problem as we could easily watch a week’s worth of movies for under 25 bucks. Again, the current situation is such that we can’t watch movies downstairs because the hall in which the big-screen tv resides is too noisy and we can’t watch them in our room because we share it with others and we would be too noisy. There is only so much street food you can eat in a day.

So I read all of our books and found myself desperate for more. This is all hardly worth mentioning except for the coincidence to which it led. While searching the communal bookshelf for something readable amongst the mostly German titles (why Germans tend to leave the most books behind I don’t know), I found “The Fitzgerald Reader.” Of particular interest to me was one of its included stories: “The Great Gatsby.” Why, I don’t know, I just felt that I had to read it (actually, I do know why. It’s because it’s one of those books you should’ve read a long time ago and you feel guilty for seeing it unread, on a shelf when you’re 29 years old and cringing your way through a horribly pirated copy of “DOOM.”)

Needless to say, it was excellent. What is needing to be said is that the narrator, Nick, turns 30 during the course of the story. So I think, “wow, that’s interesting, he’s turning 30 too,” and I soon after meet Jay, our neighbor in the doorm next door. Now, I’m not saying his last name is Gatsby, but I’m not saying it isn’t either. Jay G. let’s call him. Jay G. seems to be the life of the hostel, as if everyone wants to hang out with him in his dorm room. Jay G. heads off at random hours of the day to some job that no one has been able to explain to me. Investing, trading and even starting a sweat shop have been suggested. He wears a very nice suit when he goes to “work” and has a facinating wardrobe beyond that. He said that he’s English even though he clearly has an American accent (we all know, as Americans, that any American capable of delivering a convincing English accent would always, and I mean ALWAYS, go for this more intelligent and romantic option.) Is he an “Oxford man?” I don’t know, maybe, but he is a charismatic character with a mysterious past, a successful if unknown job and a good wardrobe. To top it off, he can’t speak to you without adding, “man,” “dude” or “bro.” Not nearly as annoying as “old sport” would be, but nonetheless strange. Could this be the Great Gatsby of Shanghai? Are people going to die in swimming pools? Am I dating a tennis playing compulsive liar? Stay tuned…

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