Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Goldfinch

A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don't get to choose our own hearts.  We can't make ourselves want what's good for us or what's good for other people.  We don't get to choose the people that we are.

-The Goldfinch

Sadly, I turned the last page of The Goldfinch this morning.  It was long...771 pages long, and yet I wanted longer.  Mine is not a unanimous position, but I feel that more is more where Tartt's third novel is concerned.  I appreciated the Dickensian flair that permeated this 21st century bildungsroman.  Certainly, Theo is part Oliver Twist and part David Copperfield, and Boris bears a strong likeness to the Artful Dodger. These characters felt like old friends; flawed, but lovable, and destined to get exactly what they deserve.  That is signature Dickens.  Coincidence?  Cruel fate?  Is there a difference?  And does it matter?  Either way we trudge on day after day until we don't so we may as well find some joy, beauty, meaning as we toil into descent.  Or rather liberation.  Freedom?  A freedom we will all receive when it is our fate.

The Goldfinch is a polarizing novel.  It seems that readers and critics alike either love it or loathe it.  I am in the yea camp.  To get my endorsement a novel must do four things. It must entertain me, make me think, inspire me and make me feel something about the human character/condition.  It succeeded on every count most likely because I am not usually a classic's consumer, yet I also don't want to waste my time on genre fiction.  I felt that The Goldfinch was the perfect combination of entertainment and education.