A letter from Miguel Syjuco, Visiting Assistant Professor of Practice, Literature, and Creative Writing, NYU Abu Dhabi to Deborah Lindsay Williams, Clinical Associate Professor, Literature and Creative Writing Program and Editor of Electra Street, NYU Abu Dhabi
“Upon your recommendation, I went to endure GATZ, rather unwillingly, the way one does when obliged to catch something fleeting and educational and character building. I decided only at 2:30pm to rush to catch the 3pm showing, but only because I thought I should.
I am so glad I went.
I loved every minute of those eight hours. What an ode to reading, writing, storytelling.
It reminded me of why we do what we do, we writers like you and me. What’s more, it convinced me once and for all to rearrange my life to prioritise writing fiction once again. It’s unclogged years of clogging priorities.
I don’t normally enjoy the theatre — it usually feels to me artificial, earnest, a facsimile of real life, a public hijacking of the private act of reading. But Gatz was different. As if that private act was brought to life — the prosaic given form, the sublime revealed in the subtle, the lyrical made visual without any special effects other than the alchemy of storytelling. GATZ was that rare artwork that asks almost too much of the participant, but then rewards exponentially what is given. (Which is exactly what I aspired to in my novel, Ilustrado.) GATZ reminded me just how truly worthwhile it is to pursue that challenge, that exchange — for giver and recipient.
Really, it was Fitzgerald the novelist who made GATZ exquisite, but it was the actors of the Elevator Repair Service who showed us how exquisite Fitzgerald could be — through less of an interpretation and more of an underscoring of the work itself. In that is their quiet triumph.
I’m struggling to articulate all this, so stunned I am now. But that’s what it feels like to me, in these quiet moments immediately after that exquisite marathon.
Thank you for encouraging us to see it. I wouldn’t have had you not.
Can’t wait to talk about all of it with you on Thursday at the Community Read!”
- Miguel Syjuco