The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

“‘The Goldfinch’ is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind….Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction.” –Stephen King, The New York Times Book Review

We seldom make grand romantic gestures or definitive statements, but Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch restored our faith in literature. With an outstanding 784 pages, every turn is extraordinarily beautiful, haunting and restless, making it one of the first instant classics of the 21st century. When an explosion at the Metropolitan Museum kills fifteen-year-old Theo Decker’s mother, Theo steals a famous painting (The Goldfinch, Carel Fabritius) his mother deeply loved to keep safe from harm. Abandoned by his father, he is adopted by the family of a wealthy friend. Entering a new world on Park Avenue, Theo unbearably misses his mother and seeks solace in the painting, which eventually leads him into the secret world of the black market for art.

From adolescence to adulthood, Theo agonizes over the painting. Anxious about what punishment he may face or how to return it, he becomes engrossed in a complicated scam. Extremely rich and detailed-oriented, we are enamored with Tartt’s prose. Dark, sharp, intelligent and beautifully written, The Goldfinchis a declaration of love for art embedded in the commodity of fiction. Philosophy, art history and criticism, culture and literature, from Proust to Dostoyevsky are covered.

“Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only — if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things — beautiful things — that they connect you to some larger beauty?”

Although a modern novel, its Dickensian themes of kindness and class, it becomes evident that Tartt has concocted a rarity in literature by fusing the classic approach with a modern existential condition. The power of art and its effect reign heavily. But, Tartt explores every aspect that makes us human, from aging, beauty, the difficulty in letting go, and remaining incredibly flawed. This is not an exaggeration, The Goldfinch is a rarity in contemporary literature. It caters to a highly intellectual and cultured reader. It demands to be consumed intellectually, emotionally, and philosophically. It is simply brilliant.

Read excerpts from the book here!

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“To examine the causes of life, we must first have recourse to death.  I became acquainted with the science of anatomy: but this was not sufficient; I must also observe the natural decay and corruption of the human body.  In my education my father had taken the greatest precautions that my mind should be impressed with no supernatural horrors.  I do not ever remember to have trembled at a tale of superstition, or to have feared the apparition of a spirit.  Darkness had no effect upon my fancy; and a church-yard was to me merely the receptacle of bodies deprived of life, which, from being the seat of beauty and strength, had become food for the worm.  Now I was led to examine the cause and progress of this decay, and forced to spend days and night in vaults and charnel houses.  My attention was fixed upon every object the most insupportable to the delicacy of the human feelings.  I saw how fine the form of man was degraded and wasted; I beheld the corruption of death succeed to the blooming cheek of life; I saw how the worm inherited the wonders of the eye and brain.  I paused, examining and analysing all the minutiae of causation, as exemplified in the change from life to death, and death to life, until from the midst of this darkness a sudden light broken in upon me–a light so brilliant and wondrous, yet so simple, that while I became dizzy with the immensity of the prospect which ii illustrated, I was surprised that among so many men of genius, who had directed their inquiries towards the same science, that I alone should  be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret.”

-Victor Frankenstein, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Want to read an amazing novel?

My dad has been a writer for as long as I can remember, working on a book that means more to him than anything. It means more than anything to me, too, since I’ve been right by his side through everything. This book is ARM THE CHILDREN, and it’s about a 12 year-old boy named Jimmy who does everything he can to protect his little sister Sarah from the unspeakable abuse he’s been suffering at the hands of his father. Though it is a work of fiction, the character of Jimmy serves as the voice of millions of real children. It’s touching, amazing, horrifying, poignant, and, most of all, IMPORTANT.

The reason I’ve created this Tumblr is to help him market the novel using the internet - we’ve been working together to get the book published ourselves and made available on Amazon and Kindle after being repeatedly let down by agents and publishers. He’s had multiple New York agents and even a contract offer from Harper Collins, which he ultimately turned down after serious doubts regarding their integrity. Unfortunately, this decision seems to have made it impossible to publish the book through similiarly conventional means; despite praising the novel and its writing, subsequent agents have been scared off both by its history as well as the subject matter of child abuse, which they don’t seem to think will sell.

But we know it can sell. There are so many people out there who have suffered in the past and are still suffering now. This book tells the truth. It exposes the many severe problems with CPS, highlights the limited options that Jimmy actually has to defend his sister (and himself), and questions almost everything nonsensical in our society.

Please, PLEASE give it a read! My dad is a trucker and about to go on the road, and he’s worried that the novel he’s put so many years of his life into will sit unnoticed. We can’t let that happen. Order the book HERE on Amazon (or Kindle), write a review, and like/reblog/share this post to get the word out!


Note/TW: while this book deals with some horrific scenarios that may definitely be triggering to some people, it is not graphic, and would be appropriate for teens - it was placed into the “young adult” category by Harper Collins.

There was scarcely time to experience a thrill of horror before we saw that the little wretch was safe.  Heathcliff arrived underneath just at the critical moment; by a natural impulse he arrested his descent, and setting him on his feet, looked up to discover the author of the accident.  A miser who has parted with a lucky lottery ticket for five shillings, and finds next day he has lost in the bargain five thousand pounds, could not show a blanker countenance than he did on beholding the figure of Mr. Earnshaw above.  It expressed, plainer than words could do, the intensest anguish at having made himself the instrument of thwarting his own revenge.  Had it been dark, I daresay he would have tried to remedy the mistake by smashing Hareton’s skull on the steps; but, we witnessed his salvation; and I was presently below with my precious charge pressed to my heart.  Hindley descended more leisurely, sobered and abashed.

in case anyone ever tries to tell you that Wuthering Heights (1847) isn’t as dark or messed up as contemporary fiction, I present: today’s example (from Ch. 9).


When Henry dissolves Cathrine’s Gothic fantasy at the end of II.ix, he is not dispelling her faith in written texts by confronting her with simple reality. Rather, he is facing down one genre of writing, a feminine one, with another genre of writing, a masculine one. (…) The type of language that Henry uses does not originate with him: it is borrowed from the esssays of Johnson, Blair and company, and gets its authority, its power over Catherine, from that masculine source. (…) One could see this power, then, as a linguistic version of the patriarchal power of the General: a way of controlling women, not physically by locking them up or removing them from a house, but by controlling their language, telling them what they may and may not say.
—  Robert P. Irvine, Jane Austen (Routledge Guides to Literature)
Mixed Messages
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What is your working title of your blog? Where did the idea come from for the blog? a short course at UofT that looked at increasing one’s audience via electronic media. gay balls of fun What genre does your blog fall under? mixed – poetry, spoke-word, writing, short-story, stage – something just me opining from my ancient queer point of view – plus my photographs or photos of me…

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