The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

Donna-Tartt-The-Goldfinch(note: this review is fairly spoiler free, fairly)

So, I’ve been reading The Goldfinch for what feels like nigh unto eternity.  Rather than review it, I’ve decided to present my notes here, a la Live Tweet Style:

– Why is nobody taking this child to a hospital? Are you kidding me?

– Ugh, the child’s voice. Honestly, a 13 year old boy noticing the cut of a man’s suit? Or even a grown man remembering the cut of a man’s suit when he was 13? Little things like this are very distracting to me and lend an aura of disbelief about the character.

– I’m starting to wonder if Tartt hates her characters.  Where are this kid’s advocates when he gets taken by the drug-addled alcoholic father that abandoned him? Or when the same father goes through all his mother’s things and sells them off? She seems to put happiness just within grasp and then whisks it away. It feels almost cruel.

– Speaking of horrible adults, why do all the adults cut him off in mid-sentence? Even trained social workers seem unable to just sit and listen to this poor kid.

– OMG, he’s finally an adult.

– I’m glad that I read The Secret History first. If I had started with The Goldfinch, I’m not sure I’d have picked up a second book by Tartt. In TSH, I was caught up in the beauty of the prose, but in The GF it feels like the passages are just this side of being too long. That rather than clarifying the image of the story, that extra metaphor just adds a heavy slowness to the words.

– And yet, when I get fed up, something happens, or there is some turn of phrase, that pulls me back in. Am I addicted to this book?

– If it was me, I’d just casually leave it on a bus or metro somewhere.  Slip it under a seat and not pick it up when I got off sort of thing.

– Why isn’t he undergoing intensive therapy????

– Why do so many dialogue statements end in question marks?  Is this a typo fest from the kindle edition? It’s driving me crazy?

– OMG, this book is so loooooonnnngg. So. Many. Drugs.

– I think Tartt may have succeeded in writing the absolute most tragic of tragic heroes. Not only has life thrown never ending tragedy his way, it’s given him just enough love to know what he’s missing. Just enough slices of happiness to regret all his misfortune, all his horrible decisions. Just enough stayed hands at defining moments to goad those bad decisions on to greater and greater heights (or perhaps I should say, lower and lower depths).

– There have been so many points in this story where you are just sitting there screaming at Theo to open his mouth and say something. And you’re reading his stream of conscious line of excuses of being too afraid, being spoken over, not wanting to hurt feelings, and on and on and the words he needs to say never come out. And part of me is reading this and wondering, are people really so frozen by their inner-selves that they cannot express themselves, to this pathological extent? I try to remind myself that this is a young character, raised by an abusive father, but even in the final moments of the book, he’s still struggling and failing and not saying what he’s thinking. Frustrating. And another part of me is wondering why Tartt chose to make her main character male, when I really associate the difficulty in finding and using your voice with women more than men – women that are socialized to not speak too much, or too loud, or be assertive. I wonder if that was a conscious choice on Tartt’s part, because there were many times I thought: I feel as if she’s writing about a woman but is calling her a man. And I can’t tell if there is a meaning there, or if she just made a mistake and struggled with writing from a male point of view.

– It’s a shame, after a nice redemptive finish for the dragging parts of the story, she went on about 20 pages too long and left me feeling over-stuffed.

K’s rating of The Goldfinch: 5 mangoes



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2 Responses to The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

  1. Abby says:

    Thanks for this awesomely honest review. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this book because it sounded depressing, and you definitely helped me decide. 🙂

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