It was as if an entire community went back to English Lit for a summer, reading an American masterpiece and then discussing it in-depth with an expert.
It all came to fruition Wednesday night with the finale of Oyster Bay's project, spearheaded by town Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia.
The final discussion of F. Scott Fitzgerald's was led by Anna Katsavos, Ph. D., Professor Emeritus of Literature and Women’s studies at SUNY Nassau. A meeting room at the was turned into a classroom of sorts, filled with "A" students with a range of ideas and interpretations of the masterpiece.
The novel, when it was first published in the Roaring 20s, is now considered an American masterpiece, resonating with timeless themes of class struggles and questions of unfulfilled longing and set in the mansions of Long Island's Gold Coast.
Alesia and about 30 others discussed a wide range of topics related to the book. The nature of Fitzgerald's characters were examined in depth, along with some of the symbolic meanings of the places and images presented by the author.
Professor Katsavos parried back and forth with her students, opening them up to a variety of themes and, at times, reading stunning passages from the novel's pages.
" 'One Town, One Book' is a national program designed to challenge communities to read the same book and then discuss it as a community. "Gatsby" was a logical first choice for Oyster Bay because of accessibility and its connections to Long Island, Alesia said.
Following the session, the Plainview councilwoman said she was impressed by the depth of knowledge exhibited by those who took part. Next year, Alesia hopes to continue the program and perhaps extend its length over the course of a full summer and make the program even more interactive.