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Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Goldfinch


I first noticed “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt, three years ago. It was hard not to. While the bookstore stocked one, two or five copies of a particular book, there were at least a hundred copies of “The Goldfinch” on display. I picked up a copy, read the synopsis, but no, it was of no interest to me.

About a year later I noticed the book for the second time. I picked it up, let the synopsis refresh my memory, but no, the story still didn’t appeal to me.

The third time I picked up the book I was desperate for something to read. None of my favorite authors had anything new on the shelves and I needed a book, any book. I considered buying "The Goldfinch", but then something else caught my eye and I passed on it yet again.

A few weeks ago I noticed the book for the fourth time, one of the copies sticking out a little. I took it as a sign that I had to read this book. I was already at the till when I noticed that it was a Pulitzer Prize winner.

At first, the book was wonderful. The story was so descriptive that it was easy to picture the main character, his thoughts and surroundings in detail. I raved about this story, thought it was one of the best books I’d ever read.

Around page 300 that started to change. The detailed descriptions started to get on my nerves. I didn’t need to know everything from A to Z, I was happy with just the bare bones of a situation. Quite a few times I found myself thinking … “Alright already, I get it, move on!”

Around page 500 or so I decided to skip pages. When Tartt launched into one of her detailed descriptions I skipped first 5, then 10, and even 20 pages at a time and Tartt was still going on about this, that or the other.

Eventually I gave up. As fascinating and compelling as the book had been in the beginning, as the story went on there was just far too much info on a particular subject.

What annoyed me equally, was the amount of alcohol and drugs the main and secondary character consume. They are either drunk, high or both. On the rare occasion that they are sober, they are either sick, puking or feeling hung over. And not only are they indulging in alcohol and drugs, they are selling to school kids.

One would think that in a time when healthy living is advocated by professionals and amateurs alike, Tartt would know better than to draw attention to such unhealthy lifestyle choices.

While in the beginning I agreed that “The Goldfinch” was worthy of a Pulizer Prize, having reached page 600, I seriously wonder about the panel who decided on this prestigious award. I’ve read hundreds of books, most of them by celebrated authors with bestsellers to their name and not one of them has ever won a Pulitzer.

This makes me wonder … is this what it takes to win a Pulitzer? … advocating alcohol and drugs and whining for twenty pages about something.

Am I curious how “The Goldfinch” ends? Sure I am, but I’m not prepared to sit through another 300 pages. I’ll catch the movie.

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