Potomac: A Gatsby Weekend

Potomac: A Gatsby Weekend

From jazz to storytelling.

Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, and the glorious, decadent Roaring Twenties described in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel “The Great Gatsby” will come alive on Friday, Sept. 23 at the Potomac Library. The event, beginning at 4 p.m. will include jazz music from the Gatsby era, storytelling, readings from the book and a viewing of the movie.

This special Gatsby weekend will be highlighted by a musical performance by Christiana Drapkin, a jazz vocalist who has been performing in New York City and along the east coast for 20 years. She now makes her home in Washington D.C. She will be performing a part of a quintet, reading portions of “The Great Gatsby” and telling stories about the evolution of jazz and the 1920’s culture.

In his novel, Fitzgerald depicts the economic prosperity of the 1920s, the flapper culture, the bootlegging and the organized crime of that era. The book is also autobiographical in that Gatsby is driven by his love of Daisy and Fitzgerald was driven by his love for Zelda who symbolized everything he wanted while she led him toward everything he despised. Sarah Churchwell, an expert in 20th century literature, sees “The Great Gatsby” as a "cautionary tale of the decadent downside of the American dream."

On Saturday, Sept. 24 at 2 p.m., the Potomac Library will show the movie, “The Great Gatsby” starring Mira Sorvino, Toby Stevens and Paul Rudd. Since F. Scott Fitzgerald was born on Sept. 24, 1896, a birthday celebration may also be in order for the Gatsby weekend.

Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda are buried in Rockville at the St. Mary’s Catholic Church cemetery (close to the intersection of Rockville Pike and Viers Mill Road.) Fitzgerald died in 1940 at the age of 44 from a heart attack and his body was sent from California to Rockville, so he could rest next to his father. The headstone is inscribed with the famous last words of “The Great Gatsby:” "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." The headstone and the inscription were chosen by the Fitzgerald’s only child, Scottie who was buried next to her parents in 1986.

“This ‘Gatsby’ weekend has an interesting and provocative theme,” said Tina Rawhouser, manager of the Potomac Library. “We are hoping that Potomac readers will enjoy going back in time to the Roaring Twenties and refreshing their memories of ‘Gatsby’ and the other writings of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Friday would make an entertaining ‘date-night’ when people can attend the Christiana Drapkin musical performance at 4 p.m. and then head out to dinner. On Saturday, attendees might enjoy lunch and then come to the library to enjoy the movie.”

Rawhouser has been manager of the Potomac Library since the end of July. She has worked at many branches around Montgomery County but was most recently the manager of the Olney Library. “It’s been really nice coming into this community and getting to know the residents. Everyone in Potomac has been very welcoming,” she said.