'The Great Gatsby' hoax
Much as I like "The Great Gatsby" and think James Gatz was North Dakota's greatest export, can we quit calling it the great American novel? It's an insult to believe American writers have done nothing better than "Gatsby" in the past 90 years.
Why has the "Gatsby" myth endured?
It's easy. Gatsby's pool was a lot deeper than the book.
Because it's short and easy, it's easy to require high school students to read it.
It's short, so it's cheap.
Because it's short and easy (and cheap), more critics read it and refer to it.
It's about money.
It's a dime-store romance.
The author was a celebrity in a golden age of media.
Hollywood insists on making a glamorous new movie of it every 25 years, even though none of them are any good.
For many readers, there's nothing else to read in American fiction between "Huck Finn" and "Catcher in the Rye," and nothing after that.
There are a few immortal lines that float above the rest.