Monday, August 11, 2014

Gold Rush: Reading The Goldfinch

Last winter, during a day-long snowstorm, I tucked into a bookstore while my daughter danced in two Nutcracker performances and read Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch from cover to cover. 

Well, almost. Elmore Leonard once advised young authors to "leave out the part that readers tend to skip," and Tartt's Las Vegas section fit the bill.  It was more "vomit" than viva (if you read the book, you'll know what I mean), and I just found it, in colloquial language, an extended downer.

But here I am again, having assigned the work for a class, and I'm sitting by a beautiful pool on a lovely day, giving Las Vegas a second try.  If anything, it's even more grim than before, as I'm taking more time with the prose, but am hoping it's a necessary step in this Harry Potter-for-adults-meets-Great Expectations bildungsroman

To encourage myself, I present not a goldfinch, but a painting of a woman in a gold dress, by Franz Winter Halter in a bid not to, umm, halt my progress. 


materfamilias said...

I found that section so harrowing. This character who I'd so engaged with, who seemed so endearingly thoughtful and sensitive, sinking into the banal, at best. . . . but my daughter, an astute reader in her late 30s, touts this as perhaps her favourite part of the novel. I may need to do what you're doing and dive back in for a reread. Just don't think I'm up to it yet. . . .Great accompanying image, thanks!

Miss Cavendish said...

I'm glad to hear you feel that way too! Las Vegas seemed like such a cultural, psychological wasteland (I know it's meant to), that it felt like literary quicksand.

I also couldn't imagine Theo's lovely mother ever being attracted to or married to Larry! He and Xandra reminded me of the caricature couple (Rooster and Lily St Regis) who try to con Daddy Warbucks in Annie.

Jen Lawrence said...

I loved the book but had trouble with that part. Too much squalor.