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Nick by Michael Farris Smith

Nick Before The Great Gatsby

On January 5, 2021, the prequel to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous book set in the Jazz Age, The Great Gatsby, was released. This new story, however, was written by award winning writer Michael Farris Smith. If you haven’t read The Great Gatsby, it follows the story of newly rich Jay Gatsby, and his neighbor Nick Carraway, who he wants his help with getting back together with Nick’s cousin, Daisy Buchanan. 


The prequel released, Nick, follows the life of Nick Carraway before he met Gatsby. He witnesses destruction and romance, as he leaves home in search of excitement and ends up in France, fighting in World War I. He then falls in love with a poor picture framer who lives in an attic. He soon returns back home to America and lives with survivor's guilt. “His sole accomplishment,” he thinks, “had been to survive and even that seemed like an accident.” He meets a man who is a fellow veteran and Nick becomes a mediator for a woman the man had a calamitous relationship with.


There have been many people in love with the story, but a handful who believe the original story should have been left alone without any additions. The Los Angeles Times states, “It’d be nice to think the real reason writers have resisted revisiting ‘Gatsby’ in earnest is because it’s thematically sequel-proof. It’s a novel about the perils of nostalgia, about the hopelessness of pining for a lost moment you can’t possibly hope to recapture.”


I decided to give this book a read because in junior year English class, we read The Great Gatsby and I loved the story. About a week before January 5 of this year, I saw that there was going to be a book based on the story. I ignored it at first because there are many fan made stories surrounding the main characters and I didn’t think it was any more special. I then saw a video saying that it was an actual book coming out and I got very excited and decided to get it. 

My expectations for this book were very high based on how well the first one was. I definitely noticed some parts that were similar, especially the part where Nick was an intermediary for the man, like he was for Jay Gatsby and Daisy in The Great Gatsby. This book is great for every person who read the original book and is interested in a little backstory. There are a few people who believe that it is not how F. Scott Fitzgerald would have written it, but I strongly stand with the fact that it was a great idea to give the perspective of the narrator who we know very little about in the first story.