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Old 12-13-2013, 09:03 AM
 
Location: Texas
15,894 posts, read 15,914,697 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TracySam View Post
Wow, I'm loving it so far (The Little Friend). Maybe it's because I just finished a not-so-well written book, and this one is really well written.
I really enjoyed The Little Friend, too, TS.
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Old 12-17-2013, 05:54 PM
 
Location: So Ca
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This book seems to have been reviewed everywhere! Looking forward to reading it.
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Old 12-18-2013, 10:37 AM
 
9,237 posts, read 19,879,857 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ketabcha View Post
I really enjoyed The Little Friend, too, TS.
Okay, not to get off topic, but about The Little Friend...

I've been having so much trouble placing the story with regard to time--I. e. WHEN does it take place? I don't know if Tartt intended this, and if she did, maybe she's a genius. Or is it just sloppy research?

At the beginning of the book, I was sure we were in the 1950s. The attitudes seemed to fit with the 50s to me, but I did recognize that most of the attitudes I was reading were from older ladies, who might have 50s attitudes even later, but not too much later. Examples of the "attitudes" I mean are: the white people's use of "negro" for a black person, the black people's use of "colored" to describe themselves, the blatant use of THE N-Word by some of the "trashy" people, and the general separation of black and white people (I figured this meant it was still the days of institutionalized segregation).

Then I started thinking it was maybe the early-mid 60s. One of the kids talked about the James Bond movie From Russia With Love (I looked it up and found it was from 1963). Someone else was said to look like a beatnik. The one boy's mom had a freezer full of TV dinners. So okay, early 60s.

Then I thought it might be the late 60s. The older sister and the maid are obsessed with watching Dark Shadows, which I looked up and learned was on TV daily from 1966-1971.

Then the one kid mentioned the cartoon Wheelie & The Chopper Bunch, which shocked me, as it was from my own childhood, on TV Saturday mornings 1974-75. I started thinking, hey, this is weird. These people are in the time of my childhood in the 70s, but they still seem so "50s." Hell, they are in hot humid Mississippi, and no one has air conditioning! Then they mentioned one guy having been in prison "back in the late 1960s." So I knew I was in the 70s.

Then I just read last night that the grandmother was commenting on the newspaper story about the US giving away the Panama Canal. That was 1977!

I guess Dark Shadows might have been on in syndicated re-runs, but it seemed weird that people would be obsessed with a 10 year old TV show in 1977, even an odd teenager like Allison. I guess the area of Mississippi may have been a little "backward" with regard to race relations, but the way it is portrayed in the story seems really extreme. The author appears to be from that region, so I don't think she'd portray the people there as insulting stereotypes of southerners. I don't remember the term "negro" being preferred or even acceptable in 1977. I remember lots of talk of "Afro-American" culture etc, but mostly, the term was "black." Also the maid, a black middle-aged lady, calls her own race "colored." That too seems very odd for 1977. Then there's a very old black lady who says not to call the police because "I's afraid of the po-lice." That sounds WAY earlier than 1977. Again, I don't think that author seems like someone who would intentionally or naively insult black people, just as I don't think she'd intentionally or naively insult white southerners.

I still love the book, and I love Tartt's style of writing. But I'm finding the isolation of this family and this community in 1977 to be a little unbelievable. They are like a family out of time, or a community in a bubble. Again, if Tartt intended that, it is really clever, but I now have to employ "suspension of disbelief."

It's still hard to believe this family, with a good amount of wealth, had no air conditioning in 1977, had no idea of 1977 US popular culture, and they were watching Dark Shadows but not All in the Family or The Jeffersons, so they might have learned that "negro" and "colored" were outdated terms. Also, Harriet, the protagonist, is 12, but even though she's very intelligent, she doesn't seem as savvy as a 12 year old in the late 70s should be. When she plays with little neighborhood friends, she has them acting out Bible stories or stories from early 20th century children's books. The 12 year olds I knew in 1977, if they still "played" at all, would be acting out Three's Company, Saturday Night Fever, or Rocky. Younger kids would be more into Star Wars than Rudyard Kipling.

I still enjoy the book, but I find myself having to take the "throwback" quality of this family and this town, with a grain of salt.


I only posted this here instead of the general book thread, since this one is about Tartt. Anyway, back to The Goldfinch.....
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Old 12-29-2013, 02:06 PM
 
Location: The beautiful Garden State
2,691 posts, read 3,587,293 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinetreelover View Post
I read the hardback because the last few books that I've read just weren't as enjoyable as they should have been so I decided to take a break from the Kindle and see if a "real" book felt different. There were times that I wished I had The Goldfinch on the Kindle because it was such a clunky one to haul around, but I ended up underlining, annotating, looking up words... and was so happy to have my very own paper copy. And I made sure to not drop it on my toe!

I'm curious if the Kindle readers felt like they were reading 778 pages worth of text or if it went by faster than that?
Of course on a Kindle you can underline (notes) and look up words on the built-in dictionary (very handy when I read British novels).

I still have the old Kindle Keyboard, though.
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Old 12-30-2013, 08:58 AM
 
9,237 posts, read 19,879,857 times
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Okay, I've now started The Goldfinch. I'm still early in the book, at the part where Theo is staying with the Barbours on Park Ave.

So far, once again, I love the way Tartt writes. However, I can see the validity of some people's criticism that she's too verbose. For example, she took about 65 pages to get through the events lasting less than 2 hours. The narrator goes off on tangents, and inserts parenthetical background stories constantly. But because her writing is so enjoyable (to me) I don't really mind it.

But if Tartt were someone telling me a story orally, I would probably want to strangle her. You know those people, who can't "cut to the chase" and tell you a concise story about something that happened. They interrupt themselves with tangential tales and extraneous information, and never just spit out the actual story. But I guess when I'm talking to people live, I'm usually in a hurry, and want them to get it out and move on. When I read, I like to savor every paragraph, go over and over particularly profound sentences, experience the taste and texture of every word and image.

But if you're not like me in that way, you will be thinking "ugh, get to your point already!" when you read this book.

The other things I'm discovering that I like about Tartt is that she is an expert at describing altered states of consciousness from the point of view of the person who is "altered." In The Little Friend, she very accurately described how the memories of a traumatic event get stored as flashes of frozen still-life images, and many of the images that are extremely clear are little background things having nothing to do with the traumatic event--an object on a table, something you notice out the window. She does this even better in The Goldfinch, in an almost-present tense (still past tense, but in a way that feels like present). For anyone who has been through shocking emotional grief, you will definitely relate to how Theo sees and processes the world after his trauma.
Also in The Little Friend, she portrayed the thought processes of a person who is paranoid (either through drug use or mental illness or both) very accurately, as compared with the experiences of the numerous paranoid clients I've worked closely with. She also very accurately shows how nonsensical ideas can make perfect sense or even seem profound when you're altered.
Even the way she shows losing consciousness--fainting in The Little Friend and getting knocked out in The Goldfinch, is very accurate (if you've ever fainted or gotten knocked unconscious, you will recognize the picture she paints.) I tend to roll my eyes at authors who write things like "...and then everything went black. When I next opened my eyes, I...." Losing consciousness is not like that at all. There's the narrative of your life, then you are on the ground. You're not sure how you got there or what you're looking at. You don't really remember what was happening before, and you have no idea how long you've been on the ground. If you have a head injury, even a mild concussion, you might make sense of stuff that makes no sense, and only later so you realize your brain wasn't fully working. That's how Tartt shows the experience.

Anyway, that's what I'm getting so far.
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Old 12-30-2013, 02:22 PM
 
Location: NoVa
2,214 posts, read 3,061,534 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TracySam View Post
However, I can see the validity of some people's criticism that she's too verbose. For example, she took about 65 pages to get through the events lasting less than 2 hours. The narrator goes off on tangents, and inserts parenthetical background stories constantly. But because her writing is so enjoyable (to me) I don't really mind it.
She sounded like Diana Gabaldon, who is famous for taking more than a hundred pages just to describe a few hours' event. I missed the sale window from Amazon and I'm not inclined to pay full price for a new to me author, especially given the above quote. I'll just borrow the ebook from my local library. If she's good, then I'll buy her backlists. Thanks for mentioning this.
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Old 12-31-2013, 05:46 PM
 
Location: Denver, CO
2,276 posts, read 4,731,706 times
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I first discovered Donna Tartt when "The Secret History" came out around 1992. I wrote her a fan letter and she wrote a really nice letter back. It's still one of the best books I've ever read.

I just did a road trip and decided to get the audiobook of "The Goldfinch" and I'm about 1/3 of the way through. It's terrific. I know I'm going to have to re-read the actual book once I finish. Here's a really good interview she recently did with Charlie Rose.
Donna Tartt Interview: Bestselling Author Discusses 'The Goldfinch' In Rare TV Appearance (VIDEO)
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Old 01-01-2014, 12:42 PM
 
18,847 posts, read 33,128,102 times
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I read the book, peg the time frame around the 90's. I found it okay, but not my favorite book. Good character writing though.
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Old 01-02-2014, 12:11 AM
 
995 posts, read 951,603 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by graceC View Post
She sounded like Diana Gabaldon, who is famous for taking more than a hundred pages just to describe a few hours' event.
I've read and re-read the Outlander a few times, and am preparing to read it again soon because the tv series will be on sometime this year. I've never had a problem with DG's writing this way, I really don't recognize that at all. She's into the details, so you learn sooo much more than you ever thought possible lol. It's all relevant to the story tho.

Now, The Goldfinch... oi, where to start...
Tartt writes beautifully, vividly, and I find myself reading sections over just to feel that warm wonderful flow of words. I also found myself stopping after reading one of her paragraph-long sentences just to count the number of commas she used in it. I'm about 1/3 of the way through it, but I keep putting it down for 3-4 days before picking it up again.
I'm so glad I got it on the sale from Amazon. It's not going to be a book I'll re-read, I'm afraid.
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Old 01-02-2014, 09:12 AM
 
9,237 posts, read 19,879,857 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasper12 View Post
I read the book, peg the time frame around the 90's. I found it okay, but not my favorite book. Good character writing though.
Do you mean The Goldfinch? No, it takes place in the present day, not the 90s.

--9/11 was in the past (after the museum explosion, newscasters said things like "Osama bin Laden hit us again")
--kids had iphones and ipods
--the dad's girlfriend uses the term "wardrobe malfunction," and term that arose in 2004
--the doorman mentioned seeing celebrities like Lebron James (a current NBA player evidently)
--the housing bubble had already burst in the Las Vegas suburbs
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