While you know I love reading, you may not know that I approach it like patient, measuring out dosages. Must finish this book by Thursday, which means I must read this many pages at lunch time.
This method started when I attempted Don Quixote, which was so challenging that I had to break up the not-very-engaging story into bearable pieces.
And now I have a book blog. I must be dependable if I want to keep loyal readers. I must follow a schedule. I swear that reading is still fun. It’s just that I’m able to put the book down and go fold the laundry. We hardly ever have any nights when it’s bedtime and I tell myself, Just one more page and then, before we know it, it’s 4 a.m. and we might as well charge to the finish line.
Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, though — this story exerted a constant pull. I might have managed to write a check or wash a plate, but it’s like my body always leaned toward the book sitting there on the table.
It all begins when middle-schooler Theo Decker and his mother head out the door for a school conference. Theo has misbehaved. It’s a New York City private school, where he is a scholarship student. It could be a bad day.
Mother and son have a little time to kill and, when a rainstorm hits, they duck into the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mom dashes off to the gift shop for a minute. Then there’s a flash and a boom, a falling roof, tangled door frames, flying dust and dying bodies.
Theo fights his way out of the ruined building. He goes home, the agreed-upon meeting place should there be an emergency. And he waits for his mother.
I’ll just leave you right there.
No, wait — a couple more things.
When Theo leaves of the museum, he carries out a painting, The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius. This is a famous painting, mind you. But it’s small. It’s frame is broken. No one will miss it.
Also Theo finds a friend named Boris, the kind of kid whose plans should set off alarm bells.
OK, now I’ll leave you hanging, except to say, for clean-reading purposes, Theo and Boris spend much of the book high on one substance or another.
But I loved this book. I’d just be reading along, enjoying the calmly beautiful story-telling, the completely credible world, the kindness of strangers, the gall of various losers, when Tartt would spring yet another surprise that I never saw coming.
Have I sold you on it yet?