Is Donna Tartt’s ‘The Goldfinch’ Really Worth All of This Hype?

After I read Stephen King’s glowing review of the hotly anticipated new book, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, I was dying to get my hands on the thing. I bought it when it came out yesterday.

But then I read this ridiculously pompous story about book and author in the New York Times. Let me quote a few lines:

1. “Donna Tartt is the kind of writer who makes other writers, in the words of her fellow Southerner Scarlett O’Hara, pea green with envy.”

2. “She is so thoroughly well read that she is known to quote entire poems and passages from French novels at length in her slight Mississippi twang. In photos, she projects a ghostly mystery, her porcelain skin and black bob suggesting a cross between Anna Wintour and Oscar Wilde. ”

Pretentious literary articles like this make me barf in my mouth, crawl into the crate with my dog and not want to touch the book in the center of the hype. I don’t want that kind of arrogance to rub off on me. What I took from this piece is that Donna Tartt is better than the rest of us, and I doubt that’s the image she wishes to project. The writer is tooting her own ‘look-at-me-I’m-writing-for-the-New-York-Times” horn by writing ridiculous sentences that are completely unrelatable and totally unlikeable. The reporter must look in the mirror and believe the literati is staring back at her.

Maybe The Goldfinch really is that good. But right now, I’m turned off. I’ve tried to figure out what it’s about from various sources, but it sounds like Little Orphan Annie with some death and thrills. Here is the description of The Goldfinch from Amazon:

“It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art. ”

Effusive, overindulgent writing about writing just gets to me. But don’t get me wrong. Of course, I downloaded this book on Audible. (Audible rocks for busy moms.) When I write about the novel soon, I promise not to mention anything about lengthy French novels or Anna Wintour.

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