There was a time in my life when I didn’t want to read the book that everyone was reading. I was trying to be very counter-culture or perhaps snobby. But then I realized that I like talking about books better than I like not talking about books, so that means it’s fun to read the books that everyone’s talking about.
(And sometimes this means you’re blown away by a book and totally get the hype, and other times you think a book is getting WAY too much credit.)
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt has been that book for the last six months. It’s length is pretty intimidating, but I got it fairly cheaply ($7.50 on the kindle), so I went for it anyway.
I liked it. I’m not falling all over myself raving about it, but it’s good. The first half is very good. It begins with a young boy who is in a New York City museum when it explodes, and I sped through all of that part about his remaining childhood in New York and his teendom in Vegas. It was after Vegas that I started to like him (and the story) a lot less, which is probably the point.
There were a lot of metaphors in The Goldfinch, themes throughout about what is precious to you and what you believe because you want to believe it. I don’t read books looking for analysis threads, so if I picked up on it then it was there.
I didn’t always understand the time line. Tartt never gives a year of the various events in question, but it seemed confusing that people were using cell phones and ipods in the early parts of the story but the latter half appeared to be the current year? I suppose it was just a way to skirt the timeframe issue, but the details that made it confusing seemed unnecessary. I also really wanted to know more about the actual explosion, but that’s never revealed, either.
I’m glad I read it because it was good storytelling and is the book of the moment. The Goldfinch is not my kind of beach read, however, so read it now if you’re gonna.
I read The Dinner by Herman Koch for book club and I plunged in without knowing a thing about it. It was a perfect book club read because it opens all sorts of interesting discussions.
I don’t want to reveal too much about The Dinner because it unfolds in a really interesting way, but I will say that it’s a thinker. The first 100 pages, the description of two couples having dinner at a restaurant, are so full of incredible details and dynamics, I was eating it up. Pun intended.
The Dinner feels like a play - in fact they’re making it into a movie, but it will be one of those movies that should have been a play - and I happen to love wordy, not-much-plot scenarios like this. (I really liked August: Osage County and I loved Carnage even though I’ve never publicly said that until now because I don’t support Roman Polanski.)
If you like dark things, almost comedy but really sort of terrifying things, you’ll love The Dinner.
What are you reading lately?
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