Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Well, that turned out much better than the last book I read on the strength of a superlative-laced Stephen King review (The Accursed). The Goldfinch deserves most of the praise heaped onto it from many quarters. The themes it weaves together -- art, guilt, work, lies, growing up unrooted, family, modern life, and above all prose so lush it counts as a theme in itself -- are driven forward by a narrative almost so strong it belongs in the thriller section. I say almost because the second quarter of the book wallows in teenage aimlessness so much that the reader is likewise confounded. But in the end, some of the aimlessness turns out to be very important, and the book wraps up with an incandescent philosophical meditation on Platonism, meaning, and, of course, art. It's easier to read than I thought it would be, and it's more meaningful than I thought it would be, yet it really could have used a stronger editorial hand. Almost every scene could have been cut by 25%, which would have made this book a much more normal length. I'm hovering between three and four stars and will probably opt for three (because of the lack of editorial focus) but it's a tough decision.

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