80 pages into The Goldfinch

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

True confession: I never read Donna Tartt's The Secret History. I wanted to. I didn't.

There. I've done it. Unmasked myself.

But today I find myself 80 pages into Tartt's new novel, The Goldfinch—loved by some, not loved by others, on many lists and shelves. Michael Pakenham, my first book review editor at The Baltimore Sun, taught me this important thing: Have no opinion about a book until you've read it through. Especially have no shared opinion.

So don't expect opinions in this particular blog post. Just take in this paragraph below, a description of a character named Mr. Barbour. It's the first time we meet him.

I can see him. Can you? It's that teleported Continental Congress image that snags my mind's eye.
It was Mr. Barbour who opened the door: first a crack, then all the way. "Morning, morning," he said, stepping back. Mr. Barbour was a tiny bit strange-looking, with something pale and silvery about him, as if his treatments in the Connecticut "ding farm" (as he called it) had rendered him incandescent; his eyes were a queer unstable gray and his hair was pure white, which made him seem older than he was until you noticed that his face was young and pink-boyish, even. His ruddy cheeks and his long, old-fashioned nose, in combination with the prematurely white hair, gave him the amiable look of a lesser founding father, some minor member of the Continental Congress teleported to the twenty-first century. He was wearing what appeared to be yesterday's office clothes: a rumpled dress shirt and expensive-looking suit trousers that looked like had had just grabbed them off the bedroom floor.


Sarah Laurence said...

I loved that passage too, and there are more great characters to come. I'm on p236. I love how Tartt puts so much into even minor characters. I'll enjoy discussing this book after we finish.

You must go back and read The Secret History later. I appreciate it all the more now that I live in a small New England college town. It's not flawless, but it's still one of my favorite books.

Anonymous said...

That is good. It's on my list, now I'm eager to get to it.

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