24 October 2013

A Dickens of a tale...

"It was all very different from the crowded, complicated, and overly formal atmosphere of the Barbours, where everything was rehearsed and scheduled like a Broadway production, an airless perfection from which Andy had been in constant retreat, scuttling to his bedroom like a frightened squid. By contrast Hobie lived and wafted like some great sea mammal in his own mild atmosphere, the dark brown of tea stains and tobacco, where every clock in the house said something different and time didn't actually correspond to the standard measure but instead meandered along at its own sedate tick-tock, obeying the pace of his antique-crowded back-water, far form the factory-built, epoxy-glued version of the world."

Could be Dickens, yes? Propelled into the future, although a future not very different from 19th century London. However this is NYC, in the new millennium, but the writing might as well have come from the quill pen. Not Dickens, Donna Tartt, in the new novel, "The Goldfinch." I'm just half-way through nearly 800 pages. I rarely commit to novels so long, feeling always that they don't need to be, and I'm not convinced this one needs to be, except for the remarkable narrative propulsion, so each page is devoured, every minuscule detail of value. The tale of an orphan, orphaned repeatedly, struggling to correspond to rules he doesn't understand and dealing with demons and fears he cannot, will not, confide.

It's a marvel, such writing. Rare. No wonder Tartt took ten years to write this book, as the two others: just three all together in twenty years. When I finish, probably next week, I will review, but wanted you to have an advance word. For those of you who loved Dickens once long ago, you have another chance to embed yourself deeply in characters and setting and the constant sense of foreboding, needing to know what comes next, thus turning every page with anticipation. A marvel. A true Dickens of a tale.

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