There comes a time in the live of all Tartt tragics when they have to draw a line in the sand. For me that moment has come. One side of the line is The Little Friend. Teetering on the line is The Secret History. And then there is The Goldfinch. It isn’t that I could put it down. It’s just that there it is, firmly sitting on the other side of that line. I guess in the case of a book that weighs so much there are going to be a gadzillion different opinions on what went wrong. Her characters are perfect, the story is perfect. I love the way she makes even small characters live, really live. The best most writers can do is a main character and the rest is just hard work. I love the way she deals with the guilt children feel, that sense it is all their fault. Everything. Hard to shake off, if you ask me. You have that sense that comes with reading Anne Tyler too, that she loves all her characters, that same sense that she doesn’t sit in judgement on any of them. She captures scenes with breaktaking completeness. New York is done to perfection. Vegas ditto. The gambling scene that is the father’s life is spot on.
For my two cents’ worth on what went wrong, it’s the drugs. She is either clueless about drugs or can’t bring herself to deal with the consequences. There is a lot about drug-taking in this book and it too is all perfect and that just doesn’t work. She simply can’t resist making a visit to a drug den, or two kids throwing up after over-indulging, beautiful. Perfect beauty clearly flows out of Tartt’s pen the way ink does mine and she could no more change that than I could get mine to start dispensing chocolate sauce.
Read it, DO! But don’t expect perfection, it’s somehow too perfect for that.