the wonderful world of veena.

31 October 2014

[audio] book review: the goldfinch [donna tartt / david pittu].

There's no easy way to say this: this book was a beast. The print version of The Goldfinch clocks in at a cool 775 pages, and the audiobook is 32 hours long. That's a long book. Thank goodness it was good.

The Goldfinch [written by Donna Tartt; read by David Pittu] is the story of Theo Decker and the people who populate his world. After an unspeakable tragedy occurs when Theo is 13, his world is turned upside down. We travel with Theo from New York City, the city of his birth and young life, to Las Vegas, and we navigate life along with him. Along the way we learn about his secrets, those he keeps even from the people closest to him.

As Theo grows up and returns to New York, those secrets remain with him, and combined with other life events, they begin to consume him. He finds his escape in drugs and alcohol yet still manages to complete college and hold down a steady job. But the cracks are there, lying just under the surface, and over the course of the book Tartt explores how Theo's life is effected by these events and by his own [often destructive] decisions.

Having read two of Tartt's novels before and being somewhat disappointed by both, I was skeptical when The Goldfinch released to rave reviews. Even after it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, I maintained by hesitation. And then, one by one, friends of mine - whose literary opinions I value - began reading it and recommending it. I continued to maintain my stubborn resolve not to read it - and not to have to tote around a 775-page book - until I decided on a compromise: rather than read it, I could listen to it. So I downloaded the audiobook [after a slight freakout that it was going to take me 32 HOURS to listen to the whole thing] and started listening.

And then, chapter by chapter, I got caught up in it. The story kept me interested, the characters were certainly entertaining, and the notes about New York City made me reminisce about my recent visit. And before I realized it, I was hooked. I would listen while getting ready, and I would listen in the car. I would listen when my parents fell asleep on the couch, and I would even sometimes listen while i cooked. I was determined to chip away at those hours, and slowly, bit by bit, I did.

Although all the characters had their little quirks and attractiveness, my favourite had to be Hobie. I loved every bit with him in it, and there was something about hearing his words that provided such a clear picture of him to me.

There were some parts that dragged for me, but on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed The Goldfinch, certainly much more than my previous experiences with Tartt's novels. Being such a long book, I'm actually glad I chose to listen to rather than read it -- knowing myself, I would have gotten bored around page 400 and then found something else to distract myself with, but with the audio I was determined to make it all the way through.

If you've got 32 hours to spare, look into downloading this guy for your next listen. It'll keep you entertained for a while.

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