book thoughts: the goldfinch
I wrote this exactly two weeks ago, after I learned that Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In a way, this is the Side B to my previous post, the same book that I took with me to the park. I wanted to get my thoughts down on paper, because I've been missing its characters since I read it in January, and I was curious to know why I'm so attached to it.
Here's the transcript of what I wrote (may contain some plot spoilers):
Today 'The Goldfinch' won the Pulitzer. I don't even know why I love it so, it's not the kind of book that I often go crazy about. I think what really won me over about this novel is it's ability to take me to this fictional world and really live in it. I remembered feeling so bereft when I finished reading it - all 771 pages - and really missing the characters in a huge way. I missed Theo and Boris, I missed hanging out inside Hobbie's antique shop, I missed Amsterdam at Christmas, even if I've never been to Amsterdam. That's how 'real' the story was to me.
I know that if I look at it closely, there are some inconsistencies, and too many random coincidences that propelled the plot forward, but I honestly don't care about those things. Because in those two weeks that I lugged that heavy book around, reading it before I go to sleep, reading it in coffee shops and talking to strangers about it, I was completely swept away in Theo's world. I felt his heartache when his mom died, I fell in love with Boris and was drawn to his larger-than-life personality, the way Theo must have been drawn to him, and I wanted to be a part of their crazy (mis)adventures, no matter how messed up and unbelievable they are.
And isn't this the whole point of reading fiction? To be swept away in a make believe world and learn about one's self in the process? Reading 'The Goldfinch' felt like that to me, it was like falling in love with books for the first time, all over again, and being enchanted with worlds and stories between it's pages.
I've been rereading some passages that I highlighted, and this one really stood out for me.
"And just as music is the space between notes, just as the stars are beautiful because of the space between them, just as the sun strikes raindrops at a certain angle and throws a prism of color across the sky - so the space where I exist, and want to keep existing, and to be quiet frank I hope I die in, is exactly this middle distance: where despair is struck pure otherness and created something sublime."
Has any of you read The Goldfinch? I'd love to hear your thoughts about it.