The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt: I wanted to like this. It seemed that everyone was reading it and liking it. If you look at Goodreads your friends are probably reading this and giving it 5 stars. It was on every must read book list at the end of 2013. The new librarian, who I secretly want to be friends with, but don't even know her name, liked this book. In fact, she said it was her favorite book of 2013.
I think I'm more disappointed I didn't like it because it means maybe the librarian and I don't have the same taste in books.
First let's talk size. It is a whopper. Over 700 dense pages. A tome. Size doesn't bother me. I read exceptionally fast, but goodness, if you are going to whomp out 700+ pages you need to make sure it worthwhile. Don't just get enamored with your own sentences. Maybe if an editor, like others have suggested, were to cut out 200 pages or so this might not have felt so bogged down.
Essential a boy has the worst luck on the planet. He gets suspended, his mom dies in a terrorist bomb attack, an old man tells him to steal a priceless painting from the museum, he lands in this really rich household where the dad is bipolar, his own dad takes him back to Vegas and proceeds to kill himself, he gets hooked up with a multinational alcoholic kid, becomes a drug addict, doesn't get the girl he wants, gets suckered into being engaged to a girl from the rich family who doesn't love him and instead loves the bully who beat him up as a kid, cons a bunch of people with fake furniture, hurts the one guy that really helps him, returns the painting and basically ends up trying to make amends to all the people he conned.
Are you tired? I am totally tired after that. Not only that the whole time I was reading this book I was in an absolute funk. When the main character of your novel thinks that life is basically a catastrophe it is hard to find the silver lining.
Because, yes, life is a catastrophe. Crappy stuff happens all the time. Some of that is our doing (and in this book I would say that 70% is his fault) and some of it isn't. Here's the thing though. I can't spend my days living the shitty life of a kid who came out of someones twisted imagnination. I just can't. I need happy endings. Call me shallow, but because life is a catastrophe I can't look too close.
A nice lesson for the beginning of 2014.