This morning, I went to the coffee shop to read the last 62 pages of this long novel. I had set a pretty good pace with this one--well over my 100-120 page-per-day average--but had run out of gas plowing through a good chunk of it, the night before. I had left off at a point in the story where a wrecked character was attempting suicide. so, there was some stuff to resolve.
Time was tight at the coffee shop, but I had planned for the fact that this wasn't my normal before-work reading sprint, where the idea is to do, oh, 20 to 40 pages before having to shut it down and get my ass to work; I had just over an hour to clear 60 pages...and not rush it, of course, pay attention and suck up what I'm sure was going to be a thoughtful finale, a summing up of all that had transpired in Theo's unpredictable life as boiled down to 900 pages (boiled down? 900 pages).
I got interrupted, about 2 pages in. I was pissed, I'm gonna be honest; a lady who periodically sits in the comfy chair across the table from me--she strategically avoids the many sunny spots; she I have noticed, MUST be where there are comfy chairs--didn't just sit down with her usual, politely muted "Hi there.". She verbally ripped me out of the book: "I have to ask you..." (shit, damn, no, don't)..."I tried reading that, and I just couldn't get into it..." (too bad, is this gonna matter, you're not ever gonna try and read this again, it's 962 pages and you bailed, why do I have to try and save the situation, why me, what the hell, okay, go ahead, say 'what did you think of it?")..."what did you think of it?"
(you have a book, read it.)
"Well, I've loved it. I've been into it completely, since I started. But I'll say this--this style she's writing in, is one of the most effortless reads I've ever read. It almost doesn't matter what the story is, it's like the book has just gone right into my head--it's weird, it's like I'm not reading a book, I'm thinking thoughts that just pop into my head, they don't require any effort, like the stuff isn't coming off pages. But I would say that I can understand that many people would find the story boring or slow, after maybe, uh, 100 or 200 pages. You're not the first person to tell me they couldn't finish the book. And I went much faster than I thought I would, I thought this would be ten days, two weeks, with maybe more of a grind for long stretches--"
"I saw! Just a few days ago, you had so much to read, but you're about to finish!"
(what fucking time is it? ah. wrap it up, Tigus. you have nothing brilliant to say, so don't reach for the heights and say something stupid--just make it a clear closing paragraph and get the book back up around your nose.)
"It's kind of like a Crime novel, where the story never really gets around to the Crime bits, but you're so entertained by what you do get, that it doesn't matter. That said, I mean, this is a 4 star read for me, not a 5 star read. 6 star style and a 3 star plot. I dunno. Again, the style...the style, this book would have to be a lot more boring than this for me to be unhappy. And it's NOT boring. Not for me. Plus..." (oh, cap it, twit!)..."it's not like I'm a huge fan of the author because of the two other books. I think Natural History was overrated, I mean I didn't really get what the fuss is on that one, but I thought The Little Friend was fabulous, except the ending reminded me too much of another book. So, I'm not automatically loyal to the author. Something magical happened. I got lost in the book." (and I wanna finish it.)
And I want to finish this review. If I'm to even consider getting up at 3 AM to watch Simona Halep in Australia, I need to relax for the rest of the evening. Soooooo...
I dunno. This has nothing to do with anything, but--I read a review of the new superhero TV show Black Lightning this morning. The show is getting great reviews overall. This has nothing to do with a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel but I'm gonna cram this in here as part of a near-ludicrous display of "lateral" (tenuous, dubious) thinking...that review of the TV show, in talking of the main character, said something like "Jefferson Pierce and his plight and struggles as a teacher are so compelling on this show, that I would watch the show if that was all that was happening, even if he didn't turn into a superhero now and then...".
For me, The Goldfinch, its characters learning that tragedy and misfortune can lead the way to a certain calmness after acceptance, its look at the short tumultuous life of one human being and his friends and family versus the long existence over hundreds of years (and hopefully more) of lonely, great paintings that sit alone in a crowd unless something goes wrong, its incredible way of mimicking life by having accidental occurrences--even chance meetings on the street (to say nothing of high-on-the-Richter-Scale, come out of nowhere and the next ten years are different type of shit)--make it seem like it could all happen exactly that way, and even remind me of that time when...
Maybe it's a great novel because none of the plots or subplots end in the way they do in a novel. It happens, it didn't go the way it should have, now it's back there somewhere in the past but deal, now--no choice, find a way.
Anyway, I liked it. And I gotta say, if this friggin' doorstop had sucked the whole way through, I still would have given it a 4 star rating when I hit page 961: don't keep reading if me giving you a key, encapsulating quote that touches on the book's essence counts as a Spoiler!..................."so the space where I exist, and want to keep existing, and to be quite frank I hope I die in, is exactly this middle distance: where despair struck pure otherness and created something sublime." (Donna Tarrt, The Goldfinch, I said the page # already, don't give me a hard time).
That's what happened somewhere along the line, in my life--despair struck pure otherness and created something sublime. And then Donna Tartt taught me how to express that as a sentence.
(why does she stop reading her novel, and read a newspaper? how do you stop reading a work of fiction, and whip out a newspaper?! how do people read newspapers anyway--what is got from that?? it's the same bad news every day. people doing shitty things, and all these newspaper readers in the coffee shop reading bad news. It'll be the same bad news and shitty people every day--I don't know what you're getting from reading about it. don't you want it distilled and made into timeless art?? read your book. don't wonder why I'm done mine already.)