You either love David Peace's writing style or you don't... If you don't know, start with 'The Damned Utd', not here... But if you do know, be patient...moreYou either love David Peace's writing style or you don't... If you don't know, start with 'The Damned Utd', not here... But if you do know, be patient with this book... Over 700 pages, my admiration for Bill Shankly deepened to the point that I was emotionally affected by the book's conclusion, even though I knew on page one, knew before this book was even a consideration, how it ended. Stylistically strangely seductive -- from a time out of mind, from a time when teamwork mattered... I miss that time, as we all do as the nostalgic old ways pass to the new...(less)
Such big themes at work in this long novel that it's hard to review. All I can say is that if you're someone who ever finds yourself trying to figure...moreSuch big themes at work in this long novel that it's hard to review. All I can say is that if you're someone who ever finds yourself trying to figure out the Big Questions, then read this book. Donna Tartt isn't giving any answers here -- far from it, just positing the questions -- but she IS telling you that there are fellow grapplers, that you're not the only one who wonders with bewilderment at the meaning of it all and, more importantly, how you respond to it all. There is solace in the mirror -- and this novel is a wonderful, gripping reflector.
I spent most of my life after the age of about 13 studying history, and art history to a lesser extent. Perhaps that's why I found the book so resonant. I've never been one of these people who thinks the study of history -- and art history -- is to keep myself from being "doomed to repeat it". I never studied history and art history as some worst-case scenario guide for living in the present, much less the future. Instead, I loved the past for the past's sake -- took the same pleasure from looking backwards and wondering, on an individual basis, what motivated the artist? how did his/her life experiences and the world around him/her flavor his/her responses? To me, that was joy unto itself. Perhaps I'm too fascinated by the ego -- the microeconomy of the single human at a time -- but it seemed to me in this book, Donna Tartt recognized that fascination as being a common thread between a certain type of person.
All of us have those pieces of art that grab us, that pull us in like "The Goldfinch" does with Theo. There's a quote near the end of the book, in the epilogue of a final sub-chapter, that reads (abridged):
"But if a painting works down in your heart and changes the way you see, and think, and feel, you don't think 'Oh, I love this picture because it's universal.' ... It's a secret whisper from an alleyway. ... An individual heart-shock. Your dream."
That struck me. I've studied and enjoyed many, many pieces of art -- of different genres, different media -- over the years. There are three works, however, that cut through me, took me to a place beyond everyday thought, really made me question the relationship between art and the self. I take heart that two of those paintings -- Willem Kalf's "Still Life" (1659) -- incidentally housed permanently at the Martinshuis in the Hague along with Fabritius's "The Goldfinch" -- and Wassily Kandinsky's "Cossacks" (1910) are still extant, still there for me to visit, still there for me to look at and wonder over in the same form that they were when the artists declared them complete. There is one, though, that I'll never know in reality, that I have only ever, and will only ever, see in reproductions and books -- Caspar David Friedrich's "Cloister Graveyard in the Snow" (1810). Perhaps no other work has pierced me to the bone as this one has -- and I can't decide, as Theo can't decide, if it's relentless irony or divine providence that this thing that has affected me more than any other piece of art ever has was destroyed by war, the very thing that fuels the elementary teachings of history. Of history -- the long unrequited love of my life.
"The Goldfinch" will make me no less ponderous or introverted or seeking -- but it has given me so much satisfaction in knowing that there are fellow wanderers. And though we may approach our wanderings individually, we are united by the same truth, the truth of Nietzsche's quote Tartt uses in opening the book's final chapter: "We have art in order not to die from the truth."(less)
a fantastic book -- the realism we feel in an unreal world of others' design... how do you respond when everything -- body, mind, soul -- is fractured...morea fantastic book -- the realism we feel in an unreal world of others' design... how do you respond when everything -- body, mind, soul -- is fractured? captures excellently that bottomless feeling of being caught irrevocably in the slipstream between realities and truths that you may have believed but now lay shattered under the weight of the inevitable...(less)