August 30, 2016

The Goldfinch

There were moments, as I was reading Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, when I would catch myself reading out loud, oblivious to where I was and who was around me. Nobody complained, but I am sure that my sanity was questioned by passers-by, as I sat on park benches and read aloud, to nobody but myself, relishing the lyrical prose of Ms. Tartt’s Pulitzer-winning novel.

That The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer for fiction is no surprise, and wholly well-deserved. There is a poetry to Ms. Tartt’s writing that is unusual for a book of this length; every sentence is considered, every paragraph crafted with a nod to the way the words would feel in the mouth of the reader, how the pauses would sit, heavy or light, in the brain. This is truly a novel to be read out loud, to be relished on the tongue, to echo through the ears. The descriptions of every location, every person, every piece of clothing, every meal are vivid, leaving more than just images in your mind, but realistic tableaus of settings and scenarios you feel you may have once lived.

The story is captivating and moves at a good pace, never languishing as is often normal in an almost-800-page book, but the narrative knows its place: it is not the star of the novel, for the spotlight belongs on the language, on the poetic rhythm of the words as they dance across the page and into the readers mind.

About two-thirds of my way into the book, I gave up on attempting normalcy and dove fully into my loud reading of The Goldfinch. I read each paragraph like a poem, each piece of dialogue as if it was being performed on stage; the prose lent itself to such florid and evocative reading. I needed no audience: the sound of Ms. Tartt’s writing in my ears was applause enough. I can’t wait to read it, all 800 pages of it, again.

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