The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt


Possibly a Darkfriend
The Goldfinch - Donnat Tartt ( Winner of Pulitzer prize for Fiction, 2014)

The Goldfinch, is in every possible way, a novel based on contemporary American Life, although it is integrated with Arts of the Dutch Golden Era. The Goldfinch referred to is Carel Fabritius' last work before his untimely death. Following is a review with "hardly any damage" to those who aim to read it.

The Contemporary: As stated above, the modern American life style is presented here quite beautifully. When Theo Dexter's mother dies from a bomb blast in the middle of New York, the world no longer appear to be surprised -nor we as the reader feels that it is a far-fetched. The modern era is such that losing relations due to bombs is not unnatural. The novel progresses depicting trying circumstances for our main character Theo Dexter - his broken family, his mother's death, a period of relative calm at his friend Andy Barbour ( a rich kid, with a strong mum and a nervy, over-worked father ) and through meeting Hoby, the coming back of Theo's own father, drugs, pill popping, life in Vegas on the border of the desert, the strange life together with his friend Boris, his return to New York and to Hoby, College life, meeting Barbours again, so on and so forth. Theo's use of drugs and pills is presented in a way such that, as if its' part of the culture and life style of at least a section of the American populace. (I am recalled to Alice in chains' song "Junkhead" in which the Layne Staley almost boasts that drugs work for him. His end came almost ten to twelve years later - the harrowing part was the last two years of his life - living totally for his addiction, wasted, - but I digress). There is also the partly arranged marriage of convenience with Andy's sister - in which the level infidelity that is tolerated ( and it is not zero) is discussed before marriage. It is one of the modern novels which paints a fabric with many of contemporary America's traits - the rich, posh, expensive life style, broken homes, drug culture, multi-ethnic nature of contemporary New York, and written with such finesse that the weight of the social commentary doesn't bog down the novel - in fact it is almost weightless.

The theme: The novel at a macroscopic level is the absurdity of modern life. The authoress begins chapter one by quoting Camus, thus "The Absurd does not liberate; it binds". Although there is no parody detectable, the questions of Existentialism, and Absurdism that the novel presents, would('ve) make/made people like Kundera and Camus, proud, I felt. I don't know how much this book was a topic of discussion in the U.S., but it warrants a serious discussion, I suspect.

The Arts: The book is flooded with it. Hence we see Dostoevsky's, St. Exupery's work making impacts on the lives of the characters ; we see Radiohead, Velvet Underground, The Beatles as everyday music of these people (something which thrilled me ), the furniture which is both a craft and an art, Museums, even our own Coomaraswamy is mentioned in passing. And of course there is the Goldfinch - ever present, at least believed to be so throughout the book. There is a beautiful passage, I copy below: "Because - what if that particular Goldfinch had never been captured or born into captivity, displayed in some household where the painter Fabritius was able to see it ? It can never have understood why it was forced to live in such misery... yet even a child can se it's dignity, thimble of bravery,, all fluff and little born. Not timid, not even hopeless, but steady and holding it's place. Refusing to pull back from the world". Is Tartt stating that the life of the contemporary man is no different from that of this bird ?

Towards the end of the book, Theo Dexter, mostly unscathed from all that life has thrown to him, says this: "Because I don't care what anyone says or how often they say or winningly they say it: no one will ever be able to persuade me that life is some awesome, rewarding treat. Because here is the truth: Life is catastrophe." yep, the philosophy of Albert Camus is present here in large portions. But the work is absolutely modern, necessary , timely and quite brilliant.

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
Well, I suppose this is the appropriate forum for talking about The Goldfinch. But your post seems spammy. This book isn't particularly current, having been released two years ago, and you are new to the boards and haven't posted in any other threads.

Also, I can't bring myself to read this book. I generally don't enjoy literary fiction. I also don't understand how this author makes a living because she writes one book like every 10 years.

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
I don't understand how you make a living reading an entire book every other day at work! ;)
Haven't you noticed it's slowed down lately? (Should've been through all the Iron Druid books that are out by now but I have been banging my head on my desk over the differences among tiny little springs, tabs, and projections on a very simple series of medical devices for like a week now.)