communities in North America. It was on that slender riotous island which extends itself due east
of New York and where there are, among other natural curiosities, two unusual formations of land.
Twenty miles from the city a pair of enormous eggs, identical in contour and separated only by a
courtesy bay, jut out into the most domesticated body of salt water in the Western Hemisphere, the
great wet barnyard of Long Island Sound. They are not perfect ovals—like the egg in the Columbus
story they are both crushed flat at the contact end—but their physical resemblance must be a source
of perpetual confusion to the gulls that fly overhead. To the wingless a more arresting phenomenon
is their dissimilarity in every particular except shape and size.
I lived at West Egg,
the—well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most
superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them. My house was
at the very tip of the egg, only fifty yards from the Sound, and squeezed between two huge places
that rented for twelve or fifteen thousand a season. The one on my right was a
colossal affair by
any standard—it was a factual
imitation of some Hôtel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on
one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool and more
than forty acres of lawn and garden. It was Gatsby’s mansion. Or rather, as I didn’t know Mr.
Gatsby it was a mansion inhabited by a gentleman of that name. My own house was an eye-sore,
but it was a small eye-sore, and it had been overlooked, so I had a view of the water, a partial
view of my neighbor’s lawn, and the consoling proximity of millionaires
—all for eighty dollars a
Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water,
and the history of the summer really begins on the evening I drove over there to have dinner with
the Tom Buchanans. Daisy was my second cousin once removed and I’d known Tom in college. And
just after the war I spent two days with them in Chicago.