The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When a bomb goes off in the Metropolitan Museum of art, it kills thirteen year old Theo Decker's mother and sends his life forever spiralling out of control, for young Theo walked out of the ruins of the museum with The Goldfinch, a priceless painting, and a lifetime of trauma to deal with...
This book was on my watch list for a long time. I planned on reading it after The Secret History but didn't pull the trigger until it went on sale for $1.99.
This is one of those books I have conflicting feelings over. It's a literary novel and is a fine example of everything that entails, both the things I like and the things I don't. Donna Tartt's writing is as wonderful as ever. She's got a knack for stringing words together, painting vivid images. The various locals all seemed very real: New York, Las Vegas, Amsterdam.
Little bits of philosophy were scattered throughout the text, musings on life, the universe, and everything. Theo goes from one fuck-up to the next, not really imagining any consequences down the line, and things go pretty well for him. Until they don't.
While I think The Goldfinch was beautifully written and very readable, I didn't give a rat's ass about any of the characters other than Boris. Boris was the only one I felt had any real substance. The rest were caricatures, for the most part. Theo didn't show a lot in the way of personality and seemed like a collection of traits more than a character.
Like a lot of modern lit, the book felt like it was trying too hard to be profound at times and wasn't terribly concerned with telling a story. This thing is a whopper at 771 pages and the story could have easily been told, flourishes and all, in half of that. I did like the twists when they happened but it was kind of like seeing a billboard along a stretch of I-70 in the middle of Kansas, something to break up the endless journey.
Near the end, Amanda asked me if I was enjoying it. Enjoy wasn't the word I would use. I'm glad I experienced the book and there were parts I liked quite a bit, most featuring Boris, but there was never a time I wished the book would never end.
In conclusion, I will probably never be on the board that awards the Pulitzer Prize. The Goldfinch is some fantastic writing but not a hell of a lot in the way of a story. Glad I read it, gladder still that it's over. Three out of five stars.
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