Roger Ebert wrote a heartfelt attack on an abridged edition of The Great Gatsby (http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2011/07/_did_it_seem_to.html). It was especially timely, because my stepdaughter is struggling with Gatsby right now, as summer reading for AP English. She's frustrated by the complexity of the writing and vocabulary, as were most of the students I encountered in classrooms. She's also expected to read "Death of a Salesman." Wow, there we are: two classic stories about older white men, at stages of life our kids can't easily comprehend. I object to the use of these two particular works for most 11th-grade students, because they force students through a dismal, miserable experience of works which they may never return to appreciate. I endured reading both works in high school, but despised nearly all of that experience, and would absolutely never have chosen to re-read either. But decades later, I was shocked, while preparing for a week-long substitute teaching assignment, at how beautiful The Great Gatsby actually is, and how its words resonated within me. I re-read the entire novel, and tried to communicate the contrast of my two experiences reading this novel to my students. And yet, under no circumstances would I suggest that students read an abridged version of the novel. I recall being outraged, while subbing in another English classroom, that students' entire experience of Moby-Dick consisted of reading two chapters excerpted in their textbook, and watching the movie. The two chapters didn't fairly represent Melville's writing or the work itself.