"... and the chatter of frozen breath and the hands waving overhead as we caught sight of old acquaintances, and the matchings of invitations: 'Are you going to the Ordways'? the Herseys'? the Schultzes'?' and the long green tickets clasped tight in our gloved hands."
That other sentence — "At the hookah bar, Jordan and Emily Wernet, a 25-year-old freelance illustrator of comics and tattoos, joked about the grotesqueness of a hand appearing inside a belly and about 'parasites,' 'popping one out,' and 'horrible little grubs' in the midst of more serious conversation about their fears of relinquishing sole ownership of one’s own body" — made some readers feel that there was a "Gatsby" sentence gestating somewhere inside the womb of my Blogger account, so I thought I'd better pop out this post. I hope you don't find it grotesque, this string of words that F. Scott Fitzgerald, in full possession of the autonomy of authorship, determined to be, in fact, a sentence, worthy of a place in the pages of "The Great Gatsby."
And I hope it's not horrible that I ripped it out of his context and put it in my context as I, clasping tightly to my bloggerly autonomy, decided that this — this! — is a blog post. It is not for the professors, journalists, and literary critics to resolve the difficult question of when some quotes from this-or-that tossed together with some connective prose amount to a blog post. It's enough to say there's a divergence of thinking on this most sensitive and difficult question, and therefore it's up to me to decide what is worthy of publication here. My blog, my choice.
This "Gatsby" sentence has a simple structure. The subject is "I" and the predicate is "remember." How many sentences in the history of humanity begin "I remember...."? There's no end to where you can go from there (especially if you're not hung up on nonfiction and truthtelling). So string along the memories — the memorabilia, the "things... worthy of being remembered."
I remember the Michael Jackson memorabilia, the Bruce Lee memorabilia, the Martin Luther King Jr. memorabilia, Malcolm X memorabilia, the Jimi Hendrix memorabilia, the $43,350 Rolex watch, the fur capes and parkas....
I mean... I remember the fur coats.... They — the girls returning from Miss This-or-That’s — weren't wearing their fur in cape or parka form back in 1922.
Things remembered: fur coats, chatter, hands waving, matchings of invitations, and long green tickets. These remembered things give the reader a sense of the incompletely delineated human beings. Who are the unnamed girls and who are the "we"? There's the overspecificity of the people offstage, Ordways, the Herseys, and the Schultzes. There's the silly half-specificity of Miss This-or-That. These people — or, really, places (hence the possessive) — are, like fur coats and gloves, appurtenances to the human beings we are trying to see in this picture.
This is a mass of faceless humanity, cluttered with hands, waving and clasping. Hands appears twice in the sentence — the grotesqueness of a hand appearing — first, waving (connecting with others), and second, clasping a ticket (intent on getting to one's predetermined destination). The hands of the others reaching out are grubby and horrible and we've got a fear of relinquishing sole ownership of our long green tickets.