If, over the past week, you’ve seen people reading The Great Gatsby everywhere — at the park, on the subway, at the movie theater during the opening credits — it’s not in preparation for this weekend’s release of Baz Luhrmann‘s adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic. No, no, old sports. It’s because Stephen Colbert told them to. Filling in the void of Oprah’s Book Club, The Colbert Report host kicked off his inaugural cOlbert book club with the beloved novel. (First rule of cOlbert’s book club? “Don’t read Fight Club!”). The only problem is that, like pretty much everyone who has ever joined any book club, Colbert wound up sipping chardonnay and not reading the book at all.
While he certainly looked the part (watch out, Leo, Stephen makes a pretty great Gatsby himself) he still had no idea what the book was about, rendering him unable to discuss it with his guest, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan (A Visit From the Goon Squad). With time running down, he recruited Gatsby’s leading lady Carey Mulligan … after all, she would have had to have read the book, right? Right?!
Wrong! Don’t be fooled by her beauty, grace, intelligence, and brilliant acting skills. It’s all a front! (Damn British accents). Turns out, Mulligan actually can’t read and has no idea what’s going on in her movies (as evident by her confusing the ending of Gatsby with that of Drive). There’s only thing to remedy such a situation: ride the Reading Rainbow all the way to LeVar Burton! Who needs to read when you can just look through Burton’s Star Trek VISOR, anyway?
As far as Colbert book segments go, this one might be on par with his visit with the late, great Maurice Sendak. From his keen analysis of The Great Gatsby (“Couldn’t you boil this book down to, ‘Bitches be crazy’?”) to a heard-but-not-seen cameo by James Franco, here’s to hoping Colbert doesn’t make his book club a one-time venture. The Hobbit seems like the obvious next choice.
Watch all three segments, including his hilarious and insightful discussion with Egan, below.
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