C(ourtlandt) D(ixon) B(arnes) Bryan The Times Literary Supplement - Essay

The Times Literary Supplement

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The Great Dethriffe takes Gatsby as an ironic model in order to extract a moral point from simple nostalgia. Its two principals, Alfred Moulton and George Dethriffe, live in a world where chic has become radical and where the latter-day Scotts and Zeldas are seen as often on the hustings as on the dance floor. They look back, though, to the days when style and concern were not necessarily contradictory, with an enthusiasm which seems to summon images and effects from that lost age. Phrases heavy with déjàvu, images like the green light on the dock at which Gatsby gazed night after night, like Tom Buchanan's stables: tiny clues for the merely literate, but flashing neon arrows for the Fitzgerald fan, make their appearance, make their point, then fade in favour of a narrative of disillusionment which possesses a sourness and a seediness appropriate to the latter, rather than the earlier, part of the century.

Dethriffe, unlike Gatsby, got the woman he wanted: an achievement which more or less sums up his problem…. Alfred, meanwhile, has been straightening out his junkie brother who in turn has introduced Alfred to a world of liberal cool. Both are a light year away from the subtle anguish of East Egg, and it is the gap between what George and Alfred look back to and what they face that provides the book with its deliberate poignancy; that and the clever way Mr. Bryan has organized a prose which is a match for the specifically contemporary aspects of the narrative but which also harbours witty and relevant imitations of Fitzgerald.

"After Gatsby," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1972; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), No. 3695, December 29, 1972, p. 1573.