"Self-Made Boys" by Anna-Marie McLemore, Chapters 15–22

October 28, 2022
Based on the classic novel The Great Gatsby, this work follows the story of Nicolás Caraveo, a seventeen-year-old transgender boy who moves to New York and meets his mysterious neighbor Jay Gatsby, another transgender boy with an extravagant and decadent lifestyle.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Letters–Chapter 6, Chapters 7–14, Chapters 15–22, Chapters 23–28, Chapters 29–40
He’d taught me how to seem at ease among men who said the word white so meticulously it carried an extra breath.
When he finally looked up, he asked, brandishing a sheaf, “You think we should buy on this one?”
We’re purveyors of difficult-to-find luxury items.
He’s discreet in all things, so I shouldn’t be surprised. That’s the way I like my friends. The only downside to discretion is that it leaves so much room for assumptions.
Gatsby’s gardens were a place of ecstatic dancing, in which the whole world seemed to be having a gay time.
“Oh, Nicky, that shirt’s such a perfect blue on you. And Jordan”—she reached for her friend’s hands—“in coral ruffles you look like a field of anemones. I could lie down in your skirt and fall asleep for a hundred years.”
Is every family in Tuxedo Park vying to have you bow at their summer estates?
He was talking in the overwrought voice he used with people who didn’t know him.
“What’s the point in hosting a party if you’re going to hide in a turret?”
“And didn’t she practically connive to get you to New York?” Jordan asked. “I think it’s time someone plotted behind her back in her favor for once, don’t you?”
Surprise lit up Daisy’s face, and Gatsby feigned the same.
“Look at these soirees of yours.” Jordan spun, taking in the party. “A ball would be nothing for you.”
“If you ask me,” Tom went on, “it’s all ridiculous anyway, girls prancing around in white frocks a year or two before they should be getting married. If a girl has to display herself in order to attract a man, what’s there to do but feel sorry for her?”
“It could be a delightful little farce,” Tom said. “A laugh for all our friends. Daisy, you can show them that sense of humor of yours, prancing about like some courtier.”
“I know intrigue when I hear it,” she said. “It’s practically my third language. All of you were behind this.”
She was talking with a Black woman wearing a tuxedo, and I couldn’t remember what the lapels on her tuxedo jacket were called—though Gatsby had told me the difference between notched and peaked, I couldn’t keep them straight—but the lapel fabric shined like glass.
They touched hands every time they reached for their drinks. (Had they been this obviously enamored of each other at Gatsby’s? Had I simply missed it?)
It gave me a hope as buoyant as the bubbles rising in their glasses.
Gatsby indicated a table where two men looked as enthralled with each other as the women did.
It all felt friendly and casual, more like a greeting than an overture.
The moment I unlocked the cottage door, the sight of Dechert pinned me at the threshold.
He’d left the kitchen in even worse disarray. Jars of flour and sugar pushed over. The icebox left open.
I existed in the play script of Gatsby’s life for no reason except to facilitate his reunion with the girl he loved.
“Wisconsin, if I were you, I’d get yourself to Hexton’s office as fast as your plow can carry you,” Princeton said. “He’s incandescent.”
The golfers held their fingers to the wind, checking the direction and speed, and that wind blew the disconcerting lime of Daisy’s Le Jade toward Gatsby.
The men around here were in those voluminous plus fours, or in chalk stripe or seersucker.
She and Jordan were off in a pool of dappled shade.
I involved Tom, Daisy, and Gatsby in an intermittent conversation about the arc of the swing and the angle of the shot, cementing myself as an absolute bore.
Hotel guests looked on, amused by this diaphanous girl.
Jordan was stunning and wry, with a shell of sarcasm around her open heart.
She was neither as cynical as I knew myself to be nor as recklessly romantic as Gatsby.
I admired her without envy, indifferent to who she laughed with or smiled at.
They laughed with the abandon of young girls and the reckless grace of rich young women.
The flush of Tom’s annoyance climbed up his neck.
“It was so dreadfully rude of you, and Jordan’s feelings are so very hurt.” Daisy looked at Jordan, who answered the cue with a crestfallen expression that the back row of a theater couldn’t have missed.
They both draped themselves on chaises upholstered in matching periwinkle satin.
“Too hot,” Daisy crooned.
“Wasn’t he the one who paid someone to fight in his place in—what was it, the Civil War?—so he could stay home? Profit off all that lucrative bloodshed? What rank was he?”
The casual tenor of his voice was a mismatch to the heaving of his breath under his shirt.
It was a dock light bursting, spilling its filaments everywhere.

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