Book Review - The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I have a kind of love-hate relationship with this book. It won the Pulitzer Prize. It’s a national bestseller. The Washington Post called it "a soaring masterpiece" and Steven King said it was "a triump." Now, as a wanna-be writer myself, I can say that any book of eight-hundred-plus pages is a triumph. But Steven King also advises writers that you must be willing to "kill your darlings". This book has such poetic, eloquent, and visceral writing within it that I found myself compelled to complete it, but it was a little like an archeological dig. Sometimes, it felt like work and I found myself skimming a lot.

I am of the school that says that every single little thing in the story needs to serve a purpose to the plot. To me, the level of detail and the amount of scenes in this book are questionable to that end. Too much, at times, I felt. So much, in fact, that I could honestly often ask, "what is the central promise of this story? What’s it really about?" I expect the high-stakes and high-conflict that makes for good drama. This story has that in it’s bones, but it also has a lot of fat.

Now, all that being said, I just know this is the kind of book that others will love as a lifetime favorite. I purposely took the reading as an exercise in the healthy practice of immersion (something better and more attentive to do other than social media). But I kept asking myself, "Am I just spoiled by instant gratification now? Do I lack patience?" Maybe. Or maybe 25% of this book could have been removed with nothing essential lost.

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