The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 2014
The core of the story is about Theodore Decker who survives a terrorist bombing in a museum in New York, and his subsequent descent into art crime and redemption. What I absolutely loved about Tartt’s writing was her characters. She has a real gift for creating memorable people and drawing out the nuances of their relationships. By far, I loved her honest representation of Theo and his mother, and his loss of her in the bombing was especially poignant. Other characters included Hobie, a furniture restorer (who felt so real to me) and Boris, a Russian immigrant/teenage delinquent that Theo befriends. The relationship between Theo and Boris rings very true, and the section of the book that covers their meeting in Las Vegas was especially well written. At times the novel felt a bit uneven – initially I found the transition from New York to Vegas jarring, but then I realized that mimicked Theo’s experience as well. The book is beautifully written, but it is very long. For me, it was worth it.
Favorite lines –
“We are so customed to disguise ourselves to others that, in the end, we become disguised to ourselves.”
“It’s not about outward appearances but inward significance. A grandeur in the world but not of the world, a grandeur that the world doesn’t understand. That first glimpse of pure otherness, in whose presence you blew out and out and out.”
“That life – whatever else it is – is short. That fate is cruel but maybe not random. That Nature (meaning Death) always wins but that doesn’t mean we have to bow and grovel to it. That maybe even if we’re not always so glad to be here, it’s our task to immerse ourselves anyway: wade straight through it, right through the cesspool, while keeping eyes and hearts open. And in the midst of our dying, as we rise from the organic and sink back ignominiously into the organic, it is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn’t touch.”
“We looked at each other. And it occurred to me that despite his faults, which were numerous and spectacular, the reason I’d liked Boris and felt happy around him from almost the moment I’d met him was that he was never afraid. You didn’t meet many people who moved freely through the world with such a vigorous contempt for it and at the same time such oddball and unthwartable faith in what, in childhood, he had liked to call “the Planet of Earth.”