Wednesday, October 15, 2014
"The Goldfinch", by Donna Tartt
This is most difficult to be concise when a book is almost 800 pages long and to boot is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction but I will do my best to be short and sweet. “The Goldfinch is a sweeping odyssey of loss and obsession where people do strange things in the aftermath of tragedies.
The author’s engineered plot opens with a catastrophe, an explosion at New York’s Metropolitan Museum where 13 year old Theo Decker and his mother where enjoying the exhibition of the Dutch Golden Age, mostly admiring Carel Fabritius exquisite tiny oil painting of a goldfinch. His mother is killed but Theo is spare although disoriented and feeling claustrophobic he manages to comfort an old man who entrusts him with two objects: one is a signet ring and the second is the canvas of Fabritius “The Goldfinch”.
With a sustained and sprawling narrative Ms. Tartt expands her drama with her main character tormented by the memories. Down the years as he grows up Theo clings strangely to the captivating painting and glides in strange places that will make him travel from New York to Las Vegas and Amsterdam and ultimately bring him into the criminal underworld.
It takes a steady patience to read this book, there are so many details to get lost in, it was rather frustrating at times: Ex. long scenes of furniture restoration although what save it for me was the art-heist action with shootout, fancy cars, the Slavic gangsters and all that good stuff a plot driving full of energy brings. The novel connects with the heart as well as the mind and it reads with a mixture of terror, excitement and expectation. It is slow to build but is eloquent and assured. It combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language and breathtaking suspense.
Only a skilled master could compose such an absorbing old fashioned story. It is of no surprise this machination of fate was a winner.