I don't want to review The Goldfinch because I barely have any coherent thoughts concerning it but, if you don't mind, I would like to share some of those incoherent thoughts now that I've finally had some. I finished it this week (it took me about a week and half to read), and I actually feel pretty wiped out. I don't know if anyone else has had that reaction, but I feel like this book has taken it out of me a bit. I can't even decide if I enjoyed it. Mostly upon finishing it, my thoughts went a little like this: 'ok...right then...um...yes...erm...'. That is what I'm dealing with right now. A complete mind blank.
'A great sorrow, and that I am only beginning to understand: we don't get to choose our own hearts...We don't get to choose the people we are.'
This was my first foray into Donna Tartt's writing (I'd love to know how this compares to her previous novels if any of you have read them), and I have to say, I was impressed. Tartt must be a terrifyingly brilliant woman. The layers of meaning, the allusions and the references to so many elements of popular culture, non-popular culture, history, art, literature, are pretty mind blowing. This is a big book with so much in it (perhaps too much?) that at times I had to take a minute to process.
'For humans - trapped in biology - there was no mercy: we lived a while, we fussed around for a bit and died, we rotted in the ground like garbage. Time destroyed us all soon enough.'
Personally, I found it all a little to cloying and neat. I mean, good heavens did Theo have a mightily shit time of it, but still, something stuck in my throat as I was reading it. Mostly I just thought Theo was an ass. In fact, I don't think a single character in the novel felt likeable. Hobie, maybe. I know likeable characters aren't necessarily the goal but I quite like to be able to empathise with them at least slightly. Here, there was nothing but sarcastic comments running through my head. Particularly around the drug use. I'm not one to get high and mighty about things like that but I have to say it does bore me in books.
'Quickly I slid it out, and almost immediatley its glow enveloped me, something almost musical , an internal sweetness that was inexplicable beyond a deep, blood-rocking harmony of rightness, the way your hear beat slow and sure when you were with a person you felt safe with and loved.'
But then there's Tartt's writing. Even with my disappoint with the story, I keep coming back to her writing. I've added a few quotes into this post because I think they say enough about the novel as a whole to make sense of the fact that I like and dislike this novel in equal measure.
'And as much as I'd like to belive there's a truth beyond illusion, I've come to believe that there's no truth beyond illusion. Because, between 'reality' on the one hand, and the point where the mind strikes reality, there's a middle zone, a rainbow edge where beauty comes into being, where two very difference surfaces mingle and blur to provide what life does not: and this is the space where all art exists, and all magic.'
To try and wrap up my own thoughts I think I can conclude the following: I did not like The Goldfinch. I liked what it was trying to say and I loved Tartt's beautiful way with words. This outweighs my dislike of the general being of the thing. But nevertheless, I still come away from it feeling cheated and slightly sickened. Maybe that's a strong reaction, and that's exactly why I cannot review this novel and can only merely attempt to somehow voice my reaction to it. I've probably not even done that.
Have you read The Goldfinch? Did your reaction differ from mine?