Sunday, November 10, 2013

On Not Reading "The Goldfinch"

When I read Donna Tartt's first novel, "The Secret History," some years ago, I remember feeling it was a bit creepy and not terribly well-written; I did, however, keep reading to the end, and it did make an impression on me. When her second novel, "The Little Friend," came out some years later, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read it. The strange thing is that now I can't remember if I read it or not (my book list that I have kept since I was ten years old is all in notebooks, so not easily "searchable"); if I did, it obviously did not leave much of an impression. Fast forward to this year, when Tartt's new novel, "The Goldfinch," is receiving excellent reviews. Again I wavered -- should I read it or not? I put in my request for it at the local library, and in time it came in and I checked it out. I started it, but couldn't really get into it. And at 771 pages, it was going to require a real investment of time. Normally a book's length is not a negative for me; if I love a book, I am happy for it to be long (see the big Victorian novels of George Eliot and Charles Dickens, for example). But right now I am extremely busy, and my earlier ambivalence about Tartt's work is kicking in. So I made the decision to let it go. Back to the library it goes, unread (except for the first few pages). Maybe I will read it another time when I have more time, or when I am on a leisurely vacation. But I suspect not.

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