The Goldfinch

24 Feb
“Goldfinch” © Chickens in the Trees, Flickr Creative Commons

“Goldfinch” © Chickens in the Trees, Flickr Creative Commons

It’s not often that I recommend a book so unilaterally. Frankly, I don’t recommend most books I enjoy because they’re usually too far in the realm of classic on the one end or fantasy on the other.

Not true with The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Whether you’re man or woman, adventure lover or philosopher, page skimmer or word obsessor, it’s well worth your time.

In truth, what kept me reading was the mystery of the story. But what made it unforgettable? What so compelled me to share it? The philosophical monologue that tied it all together at the end.

Perhaps Donna won’t speak to you as she did to me, but on the chance that she will, I feel I must share. For when I read it, tears streaming down my face in the wee hours of the morning, I couldn’t help by think: This simple, eloquent observation could help a lot of people (me included).

On the chance that you’re one of those people, from the deepest corners of my word-loving heart, ENJOY.

* Don’t worry. It won’t ruin the mystery of the story or the ending.

Whatever teaches us to talk to ourselves is important: whatever teaches us to sing ourselves out of despair. But the painting has also taught me that we can speak to each other across time. And I feel I have something very serious and urgent to say to you, my non-existent reader, and I feel I should say it as urgently as if I were standing in the room with you. That life–whatever else it is–is short. That fate is cruel but maybe not random. That Nature (meaning Death) always wins but that doesn’t mean we have to bow and grovel to it. That maybe even if we’re not always so glad to be here, it’s our task to immerse ourselves anyway: wade straight through it, right through the cesspool, while keeping eyes and hearts open… [for] it is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn’t touch. For if disaster and oblivion have followed this painting down through time–so too has love. Insofar as it is immortal (and it is) I have a small, bright, immutable part in that immortality. It exists; and it keeps on existing. And I add my own love to the history of people who have loved beautiful things, and looked out for them, and pulled them from the fire, and sought them when they were lost, and tried to preserve them and save them while passing them along literally from hand to hand, singing out brilliantly from the wreck of time to the next generation of lovers, and the next.” ~Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch

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3 Responses to “The Goldfinch”

  1. gillianzy February 24, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

    I just opened my Kindle and started reading the page that appeared, not knowing what book it was or remembering the last time I’d been there. The writing was so beautiful and the story so compelling that I read for an hour before I checked what book it was. I had left off just where Theo says that he dreamed about his mother the night before, and then he begins to talk about their last day together.

    When I checked and found out what I was reading, I was surprised because I’ve read her precious novels and this one is something very different! Obviously, I liked her writing or I wouldn’t have downloaded this new one, but I don’t *like* this, I LOVE it. This world she’s created is so real — it has a JK Rowling quality to it, somehow — Rowling as art-steeped philosopher, maybe. I’m a painter and a writer (neither by profession), so I couldn’t have dreamed up a better book to fall into, and I guessed I might’ve found a kindred spirit in you when I read, “On the chance that you’re one of those people from the deeper corners oft word-loving heart, ENJOY.” So I had to respond just to say, YES! — I am one of those people and I am in a state of pure bliss right now! It’s only 11:00 pm so I have a couple more hours of bliss ahead as well. And I started following you on Google because I scrolled down to see some of your other posts, and started bookmarking like crazy. 🙂 The combination of compelling subjects, contagious enthusiasm and a terrific writing style is irresistible! Anyway, I’ll stop rambling and get back to reading…

    Cheers!
    Gillian

    • Angela Taylor Hylland February 25, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

      Gillian, thank you so much for your kind comment. You made my day! Nothing pleases me more than to know that my writing is reaching “kindred spirits,” as you say. I hope you continue to enjoy the book and my blog. Stop by my little corner of the Internet any time. 🙂

  2. gillianzy February 24, 2014 at 11:25 pm #

    (Just saw those “notify” buttons after I posted and not sure if they work if I click them *after* the fact, so I’m just posting again because I’d love to read anyone else’s comments as well.)

    Also, I forgot to mention that it was your first sentence that grabbed me from the list of Googlesearch returns for “The Goldfinch” — where you said that you usually *don’t* recommend your favorites… Couldn’t resist that hook! 🙂

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