Hamlet is everywhere. He still pops up in the stories we like to tell ourselves. David Wroblewski’s 2008 Oprah-driven bestseller, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, is a well-known example of a parallel narrative, but TV and movies also celebrate the Hamlet archetype: from Sons of Anarchy to The Lion King; The Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror” Hamlet is one of my favorites (come for Homer as Hamlet Sr.; stay for Ralph Wiggum as Laertes). Stories that merely suggest a Hamlet motif still reap the rewards of connection, often for laughs: Calvin (of Hobbes fame) soliloquized a green lump of vegetables. There’s even a Gilligan’s Island episode where the castaways sing the play. And I’m just waiting for Baz Luhrmann to do a bright and flashing Denmark-meets-Lana Del Rey orgy of sequins and poisoned wine in pimp cups, a thumping Hamlet for Generation Z.
One thing I especially love about the film is its soundtrack. Setting the story to a backdrop of current music (Jay-Z, Lana Del Rey, Jack White) is true to Fitzgerald’s own inclusion of pop culture in his work. That’s why this week’s playlists—that’s right, two—for Fitzgerald’s novel, Tender is the Night, cover both the author’s own musical choices and a more modern soundtrack of my own making.
But first a little more about Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald’s most popular novel.