my tragic right hip

Busting out bad joints all over the place

November 26th, 2013

The Goldfinch

Right now I wish that Goodreads would let me give half stars–it’s really a 3.5 kind of novel. Parts of this epic tale by Donna Tartt contain some truly, truly exceptional writing, intuitive observations, and a keen eye for the failings of the human spirit. But parts are bloated, even a little overwritten with a tendency to restate, sometimes within the self-same sentence, a previous observation–and this made me batty.

That said, I loved Tartt’s first novel, The Secret History, with abandon. Thoroughly enjoyed her second, The Little Friend, but got lost in the beginning of this book, almost to its detriment. The novel opens with a terrorist bomb blowing up in one of the biggest galleries in New York. Theo, having been suspended with school, is there with his art-loving, advertising-working mother, before a meeting at his school, his deadbeat father having been out of the picture for a while. The plot device-ness of the attack concerned me, but it was necessary in order for Theo to come into possession of the novel’s namesake, a Dutch master’s painting, “The Goldfinch.” And it’s within this framework–what happens to him as a result of the painting, where his life goes, what decisions he makes, that form the bulk of the action in the book.

Almost immediately, there’s Charles Ryder-esque quality to Theo–he’s the centre of the story but not necessarily the most interesting person in the book. Especially when Boris arrives on the scene. He’s an incredible character, amazing, actually, who flits in and out of the book at exactly the right moments like he’s in a movie. The book is Dickensian in all the right places, and despite its length and heft moves at lightning speed. The only thing I was really missing was a keen and wholly believable emotional core–but, in the end, the heart of the book is one boy’s tragedy and the depths that it pulls his life in a direction that can’t seem to be reversed. And for that, Tartt had my heart, and that’s all you can really ask of a novel, isn’t it?

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Girl with titanium hip will rock. Girl with titanium hip will write. Girl with titanium hip will read. Girl with titanium hip will battle crazy-ass disease called Wegener's Granulomatosis. Now stuff that in your spelling bee!

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