“‘Well, girls always love assholes,’ said Platt, not bothering to dispute this, ‘Haven’t you noticed?’
No, I thought bleakly, untrue. Else why didn’t Pippa love me?” (The Goldfinch by Donna Tart)
If you could write a book for yourself to read this very moment, what would it be like? Me? Mine would be a cohesive story, have an unreliable/unlikable narrator. It would probably be overflowing with adverbs and hopefully smooth prose, and I’d most likely force myself to include pieces of modernity in order to surprise myself with my ability to be current. I’d end the story satisfactorily, with the main conflict concluded, but with a few subplots left to be thought through. It would be poignant, but not too heavy-handed. Fortunately, I don’t have to go through the trouble of actually writing this book, for Donna Tartt already created it for me to read.
Every now and then, I find a book that seems crafted for my reading soul. These aren’t the books that stretch my mind with their brilliance (like The City and the City or Tenth of December), nor the books that are perfectly crafted from beginning to end (like The Warden). They are books that somehow resonate with the way my mind works and thinks through thoughts; books that feel familiar though I’ve never read them before.
So what does this mean for you? Someone who is contemplating reading The Goldfinch? Well, it may mean that if you enjoy reading this blog, you will enjoy reading Donna Tartt. But more likely: you’ll start to look out for these resonant books yourself, and be delighted when you find them.
Recommended Action: Buy –
Borrow – TBR – Avoid
Length: 784 pgs.
Ending: Complete, satisfying, hopeful
Incidental Learning: Dutch painters, antique furniture, prescription drug abuse, PTSD
Further Reading: The Goldfinch reminds me of Humboldt’s Gift in how both books switch between serious discussions of paintings/furniture/high-society and fairly humorous worlds of drugs and theft. Tartt has a more lyrical, fuller story than Bellow, with less arm-chair philosophizing, but the balance is similar.