The Goldfinch...A review.
The Goldfinch has been on my list for a long, long time. This book won the Pulitzer. That means a lot of very important people who know a lot more about reading, writing, and books than I do thought this book was spectacular. Note-worthy. One in a million.
I was bored.
I cringe typing that because who am I to say that? But I'm an average consumer and someone who reads a lot. It was boring. There were definitely some very insightful pieces of the story, some really intriguing dialogue. But overall? The pace drug me down.
I kept having to remind myself that I was reading a book set in current time. Maybe it's my ignorance about art and antiques or perhaps my unfamiliarity with life in New York. The first half of the book seemed like it took place in the 60s ... it's not until the setting changes to Vegas that it felt current at all. And the dichotomy of the art vs. its new home in Vegas and his mother vs. his father (which I'm sure is meant to be equally poetic and symbolic) felt too stark to grasp.
The main character, an orphan, picks up traits and qualities of the people in his life along the way. Bad habits, flirtatious sayings, languages. It's almost as if he is a collector of flaws, which made it a dreadfully sad story. I felt like his thoughts didn't belong to him sometimes and as though he lived his life looking through the lens of other people's experience or chutzpah.
I'm not going to say this book isn't worth reading. There are many tokens that blew me away. But I will warn others who like the same stuff I do: it's slow and you have to work to keep going.
Who is this book for?
Writers: Yes. It won the Pulitzer, so I'm probably a little wrong. You should read it.
Art enthusiasts: Probably.
New Yorkers, Russians, and Las Vegas-ans: I would be so curious of your thoughts.
What does this book say?
Why am I made the way I am? Why do I care about all the wrong things, and nothing at all for the right ones? ... 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 we are.
Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only—if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things—beautiful things—that they connect you to some larger beauty?
“Well—I have to say I personally have never drawn such a sharp line between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ as you. For me: that line is often false. The two are never disconnected. One can’t exist without the other. As long as I am acting out of love, I feel I am doing best I know how. ... What if all your actions and choices, good or bad, make no difference to God? What if the pattern is pre-set? No no—hang on—this is a question worth struggling with. What if our badness and mistakes are the very thing that set our fate and bring us round to good? What if, for some of us, we can’t get there any other way?”