I can’t get no sat-is-fac-tion, and I tried! I tried! Oh how I tried!
Nothing’s working for me this week:
It started with The Element of Fire, followed quickly by The Last Dragonslayer, Midnight Robber, then a genre switch to Bandits, Dark Digital Sky, Return, by Peter S. Beagle, Birdology: Adventures with a Pack of Hens, a Peck of Pigeons, Cantankerous Crows, Fierce Falcons, Hip Hop Parrots, Baby Hummingbirds, and One Murderously Big Living Dinosaurand now The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Only pages into a few (Leonard, Hopkinson), a few I’ve read over half (Allison, Beagle) but almost all I intend to finish. But I’m considering throwing The Goldfinch in the DNF pile.
You know me–I don’t often give up on a book. Right time, right place and all that. But despite waiting forever for a library copy, I just don’t care. I picked up The Bread We Eat in Dreams just a day ago, trying to wipe the residue of a nasty meeting away. At 1%, I have a significant portion of writing of “The Consultant” outlined, writing that is playful, erudite, and cleverly self-aware. I mention this because Tartt’s glorified writing was painful in comparison. By all accounts, I ought to love The Goldfinch. Elaborate passages, vivid descriptions of New York–and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of my favorite places in the world–and loads of character depth.
I still don’t care.
It feels pretentious and preening, self-aware in that extravagantly dismissive way New Yorkers can have, that “look-at-me” image that dismisses you as soon as you look.
And Theo, the lead character… I’m not warming up to him. Self-absorbed, noticably lacking in empathy, he is the epitome of thirteen. Of course, Tartt could take him places, so I’ll keep reading. But I’m finding him hard to like, and with many Issues that seem self-generated, I really don’t care. Pity part of one, please–I’ll be leaving now.
I might be able to forgive the writing, since I do love a well-turned image, and possibly I could come to be interested in Theo, but I’ve just reached the scene of the explosion and Theo’s reaction, which seems so consciously contrived and artificial that the writing shouts Detailed Over-Explanation for Meaningful Stuff that Will Be Important Later.
I’m not saying I mind obvious, or contrived, but in this case, it starts to feel like three strikes: unlikeable narrator, pretentious writing, forced plotting.
I’m going to thank the library for giving me an out.