This is a post originally written on August 12, 2012.
I find that a great way to compose a reading list is by looking up my favorite authors’ favorite books. It’s not only an interesting way to navigate the world of literature but also an intimate peek into these authors’ minds. What was it about this book that s/he liked so much? What about it shaped them into such wonderful writers and thinkers? Most times, I end up liking the book for the book itself and look up that author’s favorite books but there are times I’m left a little baffled, too. Like when I read Rosemary’s Baby because of Chuck Palahniuk. It was entertaining but I expected something a little more edgy and hip. But see, even that’s interesting and I oddly love him more for it. In any case, it makes for a reading list that never ends.
How to spot these books. Sometimes I get lucky and find an interview or something online that clues me in but most times, I just pick up on titles that make an appearance in their works. In this case, it was the latter. One of my favorite authors Haruki Murakami mentions this book (and a handful of other classics) in a couple of his and that’s pretty much the only reason I took an interest.
Initially, the images of Gatsby’s excessive parties had me contemplating a rich and decadent chocolate cake but as I read on, I felt that it would be a bit of a misrepresentation. The thing is, chocolate cake to me is about everything that’s right in the world but Gatsby’s parties are pretentious, hollow and kind of sad. At least that’s how I imagine it must have felt for Gatsby. Besides, there’s virtually no mention of food in this book. There is an abundance of alcohol though namely champagne, whiskey and the very interesting mint julep that never materializes in the most tension-filled part of the book. It had to be mint julep.
I took a very different route to muddled mint, sugar, whiskey and crushed ice – I put mint in my ice cubes and made mint syrup. Just for the fun of it. To make mint ice cubes, simply place clean mint leaves or small sprigs into an ice tray, fill with water and freeze.
To make mint syrup add a half cup sugar, a half cup water and the remaining mint leaves into a small saucepan and cook on medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Transfer to a container and cool to room temperature. I left the mint leaves in the syrup for a day and then strained them. Any longer than that and I feared the syrup would taste medicinal. Leftover mint syrup can be used to sweeten iced tea, chocolate or even coffee.
I made my drink using 2 shots of whiskey and 1 shot of mint syrup. Finished with mint ice cubes.
This would have been so much prettier if there wasn’t so much drink. You can’t even see that the ice cubes are studded with mint! Boo.
Having tried my first mint julep, I understand why Daisy suggested it that combustible day. It’s a cool refreshing drink that might have diffused the tension between Tom and Gatsby if they had it. It’s funny, this book – it didn’t seem like much while I was reading it but I find myself thinking about it a lot now that I’m done. I mourn for Gatsby and want someone to blame for his tragic end but it’s really all his fault if you think about it and then I’m mad at him. And then I’m sorry I got mad because it’s his annoying doggedness that also makes him so endearing. Huh, whut? I need a drink.