Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I want it to get really cold outside so I can stay home and curl up with this book.

Donna Tartt’s third novel, The Goldfinch, is out today from Little, Brown and Company. I love Donna’s writing so much that she could pretty much write anything, even a grocery list, and I would buy it, read it, and revel in it. Her 1992 debut novel, The Secret History, knocked me out, it was so good, and remains right up there with The Great Gatsby as one of my two all-time favorite novels. I was a college student and a bookseller in San Diego when the store manager handed me an advanced reader’s copy of The Secret History one day at work. “Here,” he said, “this sounds like something you’d like.”

And how. The tale of elite college students in Vermont who murder one of their own is so well-written and erudite and haunting that I still have passages of it engraved on my brain, twenty-one years after I read it (and re-read it and re-read it).

Donna's hair belongs in the Bob Hall of Fame. It’s that good. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan.

I had long wanted to meet Donna Tartt but I don’t think she gave a reading in San Diego for The Secret History, at least that I knew about, so my next chance was in 2002 upon the publication of her second novel, The Little Friend. She gave a reading at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square in Manhattan. I had given birth to my first child about two weeks before so while I was there to hear Donna read—and she cuts an interesting and mysterious figure—I was new-mom exhausted and also couldn’t stop thinking of how cute my little son was! The line to have Donna sign a book after the reading was so long that I left and returned home to my new baby.

I did get to meet Donna a couple of months later, at a different reading in December. I brought along my advanced reader’s copy of The Little Friend which she signed thus:

My advanced reader’s copy of The Little Friend, signed by Donna.

I had also brought along a Christmas ornament as a present for Donna, to thank her for her wonderful writing. She really is one of the best. I find her work to be a bewitching combination of Dickens, crossed with Poe, and yet laced with a magic all her own. I can hardly wait to curl up with a box of truffles and a copy The Goldfinch. It weighs in at 771 pages! How’s that for slow fiction?

Donna will be giving a reading next week at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, right down the street from where I live. How exciting! You can bet I will be there.

Reservations are recommended for the reading, which is October 29, 2013 at 7:30pm at Congregation Beth Elohim on Garfield Place at 8th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Think of it as a grown-up (and sugar free) Halloween treat!


Coulda shoulda woulda said...

If you can try and see her bc news night review interview. She was a good chat! X

Paula Ruta said...

Jill, i have added both books to my book list. Maybe a go one for book club altho i dont know if they'll ever let me pick another book. My last suggestion was moll Flanders and they ALL hated it! Xoxo

denton said...

Also a fan but this one may have to wait... 800+ pages!

BTW Sigrid Nunez will be one of a few interesting people to celebrate the LOA's collection of Susan Sontag. Community Bookstore 10/30!

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Inner Outer Beauty said...

Great post! What a great book you've got there signed from her! I as well loved her first book, although many years since I read it:) xo Caroline

For info on reliable maid service Manalapan said...

Beautiful prose framing timeless themes within contemporary story lines. A joy to sink into. One of the very few books I've wanted to begin reading again the moment I turned the last page.

Micaella Lopez said...

I can't remember a book I enjoyed more. I was quite bereft when I reached the end, as I realised that I would no longer be able to delve into the lives of Theo, Boris, Hobie and Pippa. Ms Tartt writes beautifully and although it may sound like a contradiction, as the novel is quite long - sparely. Every word is there for a reason. In short, I loved it. Have bought it for my mum and have recommended it to many others. Thanks Ms Tartt for a book I will remember for the rest of my life.

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