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Too Many Words!,
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Goldfinch (Gebundene Ausgabe)
It took me a month to read this novel. It was a major investment on my part. I am a slow reader, but even the fastest of readers will have to make a definite commitment to get through it.
I’m not sorry that I read “The Goldfinch.” I just wish I could have liked it more. When I was finished, the first thought that went through my mind was that the book’s page count could have been reduced by half and it would have had not only the same, but likely a greater impact on the reader. Another first gut reaction: too much drug description. Too much alcohol. Again: less could have been more. It got absolutely tiresome reading all this. Didn’t Tartt have an editor? I understand, of course, that everything is beautifully written, but enough is enough.
I was fascinated by the worlds Tartt opened up for us: the life of wealthy New Yorkers via Mrs. Barber & Co; the antique furniture world via Hobie, the restaurator; seedy Las Vegas as seen through the eyes of teenagers who have to live there. I appreciated her craft in building these worlds.
And I thought she did a great job developing her characters. They were life-like. Each had his or her own cadence, quirks, etc . Their inner life shone through. They were complex human beings.
Nonetheless: there was only one character, one character amongst dozens, who we really like: Hobie. And he’s not the protagonist. He’s the mentor character — I suppose metaphorically speaking, the one who not only fixes up the furniture, but other characters, ie. Pippa and Theo, too. But he’s not the protagonist who takes us through hundreds upon hundreds of pages. Theo is the protagonist and he’s not really likeable. I can appreciate that Theo’s “goodness” dies the moment his mother dies, but I really do wish he had some redeeming factor. I couldn’t find it amidst all those gorgeous, voluptuous words, images and metaphors of Tartt’s. Okay, the mother, who is killed at the beginning in the explosion of the Met, seems nice enough, but we do wonder how she could have been crazy enough to stay so long with her sad sack, gambling, conniving, self-centered husband.
Boris, Theo’s best friend, is a wonderfully colorful character, but, alas, he’s a one-joke character too. At first it’s great fun “listening” to him talk a mile a minute with his mix of English, Russian, Ukrainian and maybe ten other languages. But after a while, I as a reader, thought: I get it. I got it a hundred pages ago. It’s boring listening to this over and over and over again.
So this is what I think: Tartt is absolutely brilliant at dazzling us. The book is an explosion of words, characters and exotic worlds. We are amazed. We are fascinated. But at the end of the day, when the shock of the explosion settles, we wonder: so? Big deal! And why? Because we don’t really care about these characters. I know, I know, they may be very realistic, and maybe that’s how life it, but if she had given us a reason to love Theo and Boris despite their blown-out minds and callousness, their criminal ways and mixed up hearts, it would have gone a long way to make this a more satisfying read. As I see it, the book totters between 3 and 4 stars. Today, after writing this, it feels like 3. So be it.