There are two ways to read The Great Gatsby. The first is as a tome of idolization, filled with extravagance to be coveted and characters to be concerned for. The second is as a cautionary hyperbole to giving the slightest of craps regarding the vapid comings and goings of the uber rich and famous—even those depicted in The Great Gatsby itself.
If you read the book the second way, you pity the parts of society that read it the first way. You laugh when Baz Luhrmann exposes that universe as gaudy and The New Yorker throws a monocled hissy fit, and you shed a tear for your beloved high school English teacher who carries around a well-worn paperback at all times, every word of which has been underlined during a never-ending loop of rereading.
Yet even someone as unenlightened (or uncultured?) as I can appreciate Pop Chart Lab’s scene-by-scene print of Fitzgerald’s most famous novel. The top is a map of all the locations where the book took place. The bottom is a nine-chapter timeline, depicting every train ride, car cruise, and walk-and-talk connecting each character in the novel.
“We wanted to try our hand at mapping a classic novel, and once we landed on Gatsby, we were struck with how physically dynamic the book is,” explains Pop Chart Lab’s managing editor Will Prince. “Fitzgerald focuses intently on travel, on movement within interior spaces and across estate grounds. The final result is a pretty convincing statement on how important motion and space are to the larger interpersonal narrative.”
Indeed, in the hands of Pop Chart Labs, the book appears to be, not a series of parties or conversations, but one roaring race toward Gatsby’s demise. I can certainly respect that approach, but will I care? Never.