Feeling Fishy about The Goldfinch

Can we, for just a minute, talk about this year’s Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Or as the Columbia Journalism School twitter feed called it, “The Goldfish”. Which begs another deeper, darker question about the value of an obscenely overpriced ivy league education.

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So The Goldfinch won, and I for one call bullshit. I mean, did those judges actually read  that book? All 800 pages?  Were there absolutely no other books published this year that fit the guidelines of “distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life”?  And who are these judges and by what standards do they judge?

I will concede that there were beautiful, wonderful, magical moments in this book that I absolutely loved.  Many of the characters are loveable and real and stay with you long after you’ve finished the book…but unfortunately 65% of the 800 pages are filled with horseshit filler descriptions about every single little detail that good writers bravely leave out because they know that you totally get it already.

You do not need to be told how the paint is drying on the antique chair, and which type of paint that antique chair is best coupled with because this is not a “How To” book about painting antique chairs.


Every time I was pulled into the journey of our hero, Theo, Donna Tarrt would knock on the door of my consciousness and say, “oh, hey, I know you’re in the middle of this really great part, but let me tell you the history of this wallpaper real quick…for like, 25 pages.  But don’t get too comfortable because I will be interrupting this story about 200 more times with inane things that are utterly unimportant to the story line.  You’re welcome.”

And the end–oh god, the end!  50 pages of bizarre preachy rambling weirdness full of cliches observations on life.  It kind of made me feel like I was reading the inner monologue of an amateur cult leader.


That said, I do think this book could have been one of the best books written in the last five years had there been a far braver editor involved in the making of this book.  The book needed a good 200 page trim.  Okay, I was being nice, it needed a good 400 page trim.  It’s kind of like that girl with really long hair down to the floor who refuses to cut her hair because she’s been growing it out her whole life and she thinks that if you cut her hair now she’ll lose her magical powers but really she just looks like a frumpy creepy hippie resembling that girl from The Ring and all you can think about is how much that hair must just shed all over the place and that if that girl would just spend a couple bucks on a new haircut she’d look, like, totally amazing.  No?  Just me?  It’s just me who thinks that?  Well…okay.

Honestly, I don’t know why I have so many mixed emotions about this book.

Maybe it’s because I can see the potential for what this book could have been?

Or maybe I’m just jealous.

Yeah…I’m probably just pretty jealous.