A Musing: The Goldfinch (…Again)


I’ve seen a million, zillion summaries and reviews and whatnot of this book in blogland … so I’ll refrain from doing that. I’ll just gush (and won’t give anything away — I know lots of you are reading or want to read this book; I do not want to take one scrap of delight away from you).

*Boris. Boris! Boris is absolutely, positively one of my Unforgettable Characters Of All Time, Ever, Amen. I’m more like Theo, but god, Boris. That man is a lion. A criminal, alcoholic, drug-addicted lion, but a lion nonetheless. A lion, especially because of.

*Hobie. Oh my heart. Not just Hobie but the entire world of the workshop in the West Village. The descriptions of the craft of furniture making and repair, the scents of beeswax and turpentine, the changelings. The food he whips up and the objets throughout the house. His heart. Even his head in the sand and in the world and not of it qualities.

*Holy fresh astonishing extended metaphor: morphine lollipop. D*mn, Donna Tartt!

*Those sentences. I need to sit with the long ones and study her colon and semi-colon use. I’m in awe.

*Society and money and class, oh my! Her perceptions are so laser beam accurate.

*Not to mention literature, music, and art. I am literally going to go through each page and list these references so that I have an amazing reading, listening, and viewing resource. Sponge = me.

*Romanticism. Not as in lovey dovey, but as in truth and beauty, awe and terror. Imagination. How refreshing I find this after SO much minimalism and realism and all of our other 21st century -isms. See also, those sentences.

*The last two pages are so close to my personal philosophy that I actually shook a bit after reading them. And cried. Of course I cried.

Tartt appeared at the Free Library of Philadelphia for a reading and some question-fielding. They were kind enough to make the audio available, and it’s very worth listening to. I must admit, though, that I am SO TIRED of people asking her why she takes so long to write her books (who cares!)! As an alternative, I have prepared some questions that I would love to ask Donna Tartt in my fantasy-land la la la world:

I love the way your write about animals and their relationships to your characters. Popchik! Do you currently share your life with any animal companions? Stories?

You seem to have an interesting relationship with education/academia. You clearly prize learning, but The Goldfinch is populated with extrememly smart but indifferent students, and learning by doing is held above traditional schooling. How do you feel about education? Higher education? Do you think that you can learn to write in an MFA program?

Talk to me about your own most meaningful, beautiful objects. What do they evoke for you?

What are you listening to right now? What is your favorite painting currently?

I want to ask you how you know so much about alternate states of consciousness, but I won’t ๐Ÿ˜‰

image: Gorgeous, gorgeous portrait of Donna Tartt and books by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair.



  1. Nikki Hall (A Book Less Ordinary)

    I know you are keen on the Goldfinch but I’m stuck halfway through! The character, Boris and the whole Las Vegas setting is slowing things down for me. Although, the book is elegantly written and one of the few novels I’ve read recently where I was completely immersed in its world. I suppose I’ll have to keep going…

  2. Wallace

    Incredible. This makes me want to stop what I’m doing right now and go pick up where I left off last night! Will re-read this after I finish to really get the full meanings. Will you be publishing that list that you are making??

  3. Marie

    Yes! That ending! I loved it. Not in any of the usual plot-twist or tragedy or happy ending sorts of ways, but just her words. I can’t describe it, but it made the book for me.
    Also, about Popchik…****POTENTIAL MINOR SPOILER ALERT******** it was so refreshing to see an animal in a novel that was not put there for adding emotional pull for the reader later on through some scenario involving some cruel and/or untimely death. This may be more prevalent in movies (something almost always happens to the dog), but I see it a lot in books too. Another positive mark for Donna Tartt. Keepin’ it classy! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Cindy

    Hi – found you through Wallace (I’ve done a couple of read a longs – loved Crime and Punishment!!) and checked out your blog today…your post on The Goldfinch is the best I’ve read yet!! As I was reading it, I found myself nodding in agreement and saying “yes…yes…yes…” Loved the book and I can’t wait to read Tartt’s other books….although, I’m a little afraid they might not measure up to Theo, Boris and Hobie!!

    • jackiemania

      Hi Cindy!

      I have reviews up for all of Tartt’s books. In a nutshell, I LOVED The Little Friend and I had some issues with The Secret History but they didn’t keep me from compulsively devouring the book. Most people love The Secret History and felt lukewarm (or disliked) The Little Friend so you have no choice but to read both and see what you think ๐Ÿ™‚

      I am almost on Winter Break and plan to compile a list of the music, art, and literature referenced in The Goldfinch (if I don’t see a list published by December 23 ๐Ÿ˜‰ so look for that on my blog if you are interested! I wanna go to Donna Tartt School!

  5. Stewart

    I just finished reading The Goldfinch last night on a cross-country flight. It’s a fantastic book, and your thoughts are very in sync with mine and have added to my enjoyment of, and appreciation for, what Tartt has done — so thanks! I saw the painting in person two weeks ago at the Frick in NYC. It was as popular with the crowds as the showing of Girl With a Pearl Earring, which is saying something. Part of that was because of the current popularity of Tartt’s book, for sure. But the tiny painting (smaller than I expected) is truly compelling all on its own, and surely that was part of it too. I was lucky the showing and my reading coincided as they did!

    • jackiemania

      WOW — I would have loved to see the painting! You are lucky that your trip and your reading came together in that way (and Tartt would love that “coincidence” ๐Ÿ™‚ Can you believe the book was released on the same day the Frick showing opened, completely “unrelated” !!

      Hope we get to participate in a read-a-long together soon ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Stewart

    Thanks Jackie. I actually live in NYC, so the “trip” was a 15 minute walk from my office to the Frick, lol! I really had zero excuse not to check it out in person. I did have to wait two hours in line outside in the freezing cold, but it was worth it! It looks like we’ll have to wait until the spring to participate in another read-a-long together since you (probably wisely) passed on Flowers in the Attic and I have already read Middlesex (too recently to be up for a re-read). I look forward to re-aligning with you after that!

    • jackiemania

      Ah! I saw that you read The Goldfinch on the plane and assumed — well, you know what they say about assuming ๐Ÿ™‚ !!

      Yeah — I struggled to get through Flowers in the Attic when I was 12 years old because I thought it was poorly written. I was more into Jackie Collins for my trashy preteen fix — I liked the glitz ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Stewart

        My sister corrupted me into reading Flowers in the Attic at the same age. I love that even at 12 you recognized bad writing. Believe me, it hasn’t improved with age!

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