I’ll admit it straight off – I loved The Goldfinch. I had that wonderful, rare feeling when you read a final sentence and close a book, letting yourself linger for as long as possible in the author’s world. I had a thought I’ve rarely had — I realized that the book had changed me for the better. I came away with such a message of hope, and I vowed right then and there to write Donna Tartt and tell her how much her words meant to me.
Vicki Doudera here, reporting on events that happened back in March. We were visiting our oldest son in St. Croix, and I read the final sentences of The Goldfinch on an incredibly beautiful and remote beach. I told my daughter that she needed to read it as soon as she could, and, as soon as we were back in Camden, I lent it to my mother so that she could be similarly impressed.
Except she wasn’t. Mom was lukewarm about the book, absolutely hating the whole middle section when Theo was living with his father in a haze of drugs. My daughter started the book once she finished her first year of college, but she thinks it drags and has yet to finish it. And guess what? She is not alone. Lo and behold there are a whole passel of critics claiming The Goldfinch is childish, poorly written, and contrived.
Back in April, The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. I felt vindicated, agreeing totally with the judges that it’s a book that “stimulates the mind and touches the heart.” But now I have to wonder – who’s really right? Those who love it, like me and our own Stephen King, or those who find it lacking?
My latest issue of Vanity Fair has a provocative article weighing in on the controversy, available on line here. The story raises the BIG question of what makes art “art.” As interesting as the article is, even more compelling are the comments at the end. It’s amazing how varied they are, how divisive the book really is.
Did you read The Goldfinch? And what did you think? Is it Pulitzer-worthy? Did you wish you had written it? And — would you read it again?