Book Review: Theo Has A Painting

The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)

“The Goldfinch” is a Pulitzer prize winning novel by Donna Tartt.  It is told in first person from the perspective of a kid named Theo Decker.  The novel starts off when Theo is about thirteen years old.  A trip to a New York art museum is shattered when a bomb is detonated, killing the mother.  In the confusion, Theo has managed to grab a painting of a pretty bird and hold on to it over the years.  He was first taken in by a family of a school friend before his ne’er-do-well father turns up and whisks him off to Las Vegas.  He meets a Russian immigrant named Boris who has a big impact on his life.  Theo gets hooked on drugs and returns to New York where he lives with a friendly art and antique dealer. He is in love with a tragically unattainable pretty girl who was in the museum with him at the time it was blown apart.  Theo is quite the mess, understandably.  The novel delves pretty heavily into the underground art scene, which isn’t without interest.

Here’s the main problem I have with this thing.  It is well over 950 pages long. and I’m not that sure that it needed to be.  Tartt is actually a talented enough wordsmith, but detail she puts into scenes and reflections really makes reading this thing like slogging through wet cement sometimes.  I appreciate the complex characters she has and the complicated dynamics in some of the relationships.  The plot itself is interesting, but I am not sure it needed to be such an opus.

There is a lot I am leaving out in describing this novel, but it’s over 950 pages so I will just have to forgive myself for any perceived oversight and ask for some grace from any readers.  It actually has some merits to it, but I had a hard time with staying in a state of enthrallment.  The experience felt more like a chore than a diversion at times, but I am too stubborn to give up on something once I have started reading.  Plus, I think sticking through it and enduring something like that gives me more credibility when commenting in this blog.

Now on to something considerably less weighty!  One of the joys I had as a youngster was collecting the Target novelizations of the classic Doctor Who episodes.  A few years ago, the experience was recreated with a selection of episodes from the revived series. The next step on my literary journey will be with a novelization of the final adventure of the Twelfth Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, “Twice Upon a Time” by Paul Cornell.

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