**spoiler alert** Ended up being much better than I expected. The middle part was sloggy, especially considering how short the book is. The retold fab...more**spoiler alert** Ended up being much better than I expected. The middle part was sloggy, especially considering how short the book is. The retold fables interspersed throughout were fun but made me feel as if the book was claiming an awful lot for itself, as did the allusions to things like Wuthering Heights.
But the payoff at the end felt surprisingly real and relevant to anyone who has been involved with a family paralyzed by materialism and class and/or inheritance issues.
I had seen semi-spoilers and knew at least some of the characters were dead, which I think actually made it more pleasurable to read. One dead character in particular was really well done and reminded me of the guy in The Others. "Sometimes, I bleed." (less)
I'm not sure the extensive summarizing of the novels really works, but I have difficulty imagining how the book would have come across without them. I...moreI'm not sure the extensive summarizing of the novels really works, but I have difficulty imagining how the book would have come across without them. I think the book is extremely valuable in the way it brings out what Perry really went through in the aftermath of the crime. There is a point where she is in prison and decides to fully accept responsibility for her situation. "Nobody did this to me." This was a 15-year-old sent to serve an indeterminate sentence at hard labor in a qhastly old prison where people were being executed. If the book were presented as a straight-up narrative with that as the climax though, it might read as an apologia or indeed special pleading, and it's not that. It does serve, I think, as a corrective to what seems like a common view, namely that Perry killed someone and then went off, changed her name and became a best-selling author; there was so much more to it than that.
I attended a seminar once where Perry spoke, and it seems to me really clear that she lives with the reality of having done that crime every day of her life. She didn't bring up the crime explicitly, but she talked about you deal with having done something wrong in your life. One way in which the plot summaries are effective, I think, is in bringing out ways that moral dilemmas in the books might resonate with Perry's life. (less)
**spoiler alert** I'm glad I read this book, although there were long stretches where I was not enjoying myself, exactly. I like a novel you can live...more**spoiler alert** I'm glad I read this book, although there were long stretches where I was not enjoying myself, exactly. I like a novel you can live in, which The Goldfinch certainly is. But with that, Tartt has a way of making me actually feel I'm living through some of the less pleasant episodes in the character's life. But the novel breathes. With its scope and literary references it reminds of of Dickens, yes, but also big works like Nabokov's Ada and Gaddis's The Recognitions. Something of Infinite Jest, too, in the very fine-grained observations and of course the drugs. But more so the earlier works; there's something old-fashioned about the book which I really like. By the end I was dragging my heels, not wanting it to be over.
But then, I felt let down. Not with the whole book by any means, but I didn't like all the abstraction about art at the end. It felt heavy-handed and I felt the Tartt was claiming too much for the book. She has done some of the things she was suggesting that writing should do; she didn't have to tell us she did it. Other things she's suggesting art should do-- ah, I agree with her or I don't. If I haven't come to those conclusions by reading the rest of the book, this is not the time to bust out with them. What happened with the character worked, I think, and I wished she had settled for that and not spent so much time on stuff that felt meta. (less)
Really enjoyed this. People should definitely read Lili’uokalani's own autobiography/history of Hawaii along with it. She was a remarkable person with...moreReally enjoyed this. People should definitely read Lili’uokalani's own autobiography/history of Hawaii along with it. She was a remarkable person with a fascinating voice. (less)
**spoiler alert** I wish I could read this book without having read The Descendants. On some levels it seemed like the same book all over again, but w...more**spoiler alert** I wish I could read this book without having read The Descendants. On some levels it seemed like the same book all over again, but without some of the features that made The Descendants interesting. The Hawaiian setting was a real asset of The Descendants-- as in House of Thieves, which I liked a lot. For this mainlander, Colorado doesn't have the same kind of interest. Also there was a pretty interesting mystery plot element worked into the Descendants (wrt the land sale) in sneaky way that I admired; there wasn't the equivalent here. So I read this book with a sense that things were missing-- elements taken out, without enough new ones being put in.
On the other hand, I thought the writing in The Possibilities was better, more subtle. Characters' actions seemed more plausible. The main character was great-- repellent at times; she has really ugly thoughts. But the growth she experiences in the novel feels fairly real to me.(less)