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The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) Paperback – April 7, 2015
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"A soaring masterpiece."―Ron Charles, Washington Post
"Dazzling....A glorious, Dickensian novel, a novel that pulls together all Ms. Tartt's remarkable storytelling talents into a rapturous, symphonic whole and reminds the reader of the immersive, stay-up-all-night pleasures of reading."―Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"The Goldfinch is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind....Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction."―Stephen King, New York Times Book Review
"The Goldfinch is a book about art in all its forms, and right from the start we remember why we enjoy Donna Tartt so much: the humming plot and elegant prose; the living, breathing characters; the perfectly captured settings....Joy and sorrow exist in the same breath, and by the end The Goldfinch hangs in our stolen heart."―Vanity Fair
"Drenched in sensory detail, infused with Theo's churning thoughts and feelings, sparked by nimble dialogue, and propelled by escalating cosmic angst and thriller action, Tartt's trenchant, defiant, engrossing, and rocketing novel conducts a grand inquiry into the mystery and sorrow of survival, beauty and obsession, and the promise of art."―Booklist (starred review)
"There's a bewitching urgency to the narration that's impossible to resist. Theo is magnetic...The Goldfinch is a pleasure to read."―Publishers Weekly
"A long-awaited, elegant meditation on love, memory, and the haunting power of art....Eloquent and assured, with memorable characters....A standout--and well-worth the wait."―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"It's a classic...If you haven't read it, read it. If you have, read it again."―Andy Cohen, Today Show
"Where to begin? Simply put, I'm indescribably jealous of any reader picking up this masterpiece for the first time. And once they do, they will long remember the heartrending character of Theo Decker and his unthinkable journey."―Sarah Jessica Parker for Goop
About the Author
Donna Tartt is the author of The Goldfinch, which was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. Her novels The Secret History and The Little Friend have been translated into 30 languages. She was born in Greenwood, Mississippi and is a graduate of Bennington College.
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Donna Tartt is at times a brilliant writer and a masterful wordsmith. But she reminds me of a Grammy-winning jazz trombonist that I saw at a club once. He was an amazing technician and could coax more notes and different sounds out of the trombone than anyone I had ever heard. And while I could certainly appreciate his technical abilities and marvel at the otherwordly sounds he could create with the instrument, in the end the performance was not satisfying. I was looking for some semblance of a melody and artistry at least somewhat pleasant to the ear, but what I got was a cacophanous display of technical ability.
Yes, you can have too much of a good thing. And Donna Tartt proves it with The Goldfinch. No matter how skillfully she writes about Theo's drug-fueled escapades in Las Vegas, we are so tired of hearing about them after a while. And regardless of how well she conveys all of the things going through his mind while holed up in a hotel in Amsterdam, we just don't care at some point.
I understand the tendency of a good writer to do more of what she does well. What I don't understand is the writer's conceit in not recognizing and overcoming that tendency. While I see this as a serious fault in a writer, I find it unforgivable in an editor. Both of them are guilty of taking a 500 page great book and turning it into an 800 page good book.
While The Goldfinch does bog down a bit in the second half, I was entranced by the characters and plot from the very beginning and just skimmed my way over a few clunky sections. Thirteen-year-old Theo is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with his single mother (a true art lover/historian), because they need to kill time before a meeting at his school about his possible suspension. There's a terrorist bombing, and Theo survives while his mother does not. In his last few minutes alive, Welty, grandfather to a beautiful young redhead that Theo had been following around the museum, gives him an antique ring with an address to bring it to, and tells him to take the painting, The Goldfinch, that they had all been looking at prior to the terrorist attack.
Theo survives, but with guilt for being alive, and PTSD that he suppresses with numerous legal and illegal drugs to the point of near obliteration. Despite his often despicable acts, it's hard not to root for Theo, even when it seems futile. We hope he will find balance in a world gone haywire for him, that he will find love with the redhead who has also survived. We hope and hope, with little reason to.
In the end, I found this book as inspirational as the "spiritual" books I regularly read. It seeks to answer the large question about why some people are destined to suffer. And it offers mysterious, ambiguous and inexplicable answers.
Theo has a dream visitation from his mother at his darkest moment, after murder and mayhem in Amsterdam, and that is the turning point in his life and his search for a reason to live. He surmises, "...as cruelly as the game is stacked, that it's possible to play it with a kind of joy?" This fits into my view of the meaning of life -- to enjoy living, life, beauty, love, whatever obstacles are in our way. The Goldfinch painting symbolizes all of these things for Theo, even though like the bird, he is tethered to a chain of sorrow from which he will never be able to free himself.
Becca Chopra, author of Chakra Secrets