I recently had the experience of *making* myself finish a book. The book in question is The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. It seems to be The Book Everyone Is Reading This Summer, the book I’m seeing in library book clubs and social media. I think it’s also very much a book of its time, in that the title of the book is also the title of a painting. This seems to have been done noticeably often in the past decade or so. I’m thinking of The Girl with a Pearl Earring (Tracy Chevalier) and The Music Lesson (Katharine Weber). And if I can come up with just two off the top of my head, you know there have to be a lot more out there. Right?
Are there enough of these to count as a trend? Since when did we as readers start wanting a dash of artwork with our reading? Does this say anything about us as readers?
I (surprise!) don’t have the answers to any of these questions, but I think about them. I wonder if, with all the information and all the fandoms and all the new ways to self-identify that are part of our Information Age culture, we have a new thirst for self-identifying as cultured people. You know, the kind of people who go to art museums and who know how to pronounce “Modigliani” and who know how many Bach cello suites there are. I wonder if we get a little kick out of seeing and recognizing a painting or an artist’s name in a work of fiction. I wonder whether our little culture kick plays into writing, publishing, and marketing current fiction.
Well. Who knows?
Back to The Goldfinch… I had trouble with it because I liked it too much. Does that make any sense? I loved the beginning, but found the middle sections very painful because I really had come to care for the protagonist of the book. And it’s very hard to keep going when that means watching someone you care for suffer. But I’m glad I kept on going, because the end made it all worthwhile.
You see I’m determined not to give any details or any spoilers. In any case, this isn’t a book review, it’s only my little blog and that means I can write whatever I want.
I’m glad that, for Donna Tartt, writing whatever she wanted resulted in The Goldfinch.
You should read it. But you’ll probably have to wait a while if you’re requesting it from a library, because everyone else wants to read it, too.
It’s definitely worth the wait.
Love you & leave you,