The first casualty

My quest to plow through as many of these 26 hardcover books before the end of the year continues apace. I finished the first one in short order and then I moved on to The Goldfinch. Huge, three years old, and either loved or hated. I am totally ambivalent about it which is why I’m stopping after a hundred pages. I found parts of it enjoyable, and I can understand why some people love it. I was starting to tire of it, but then the bomb exploded and I thought, wait a minute, I didn’t see that coming. Unfortunately, I found the immediate post-bomb sections a little tedious and frustrating, and then I found Theo’s move to Park Avenue a little lazy and it began to remind me of the intellectual laziness of A Little Life. But only a little, a whiff, if you will.

A worthy book perhaps, but not for me. So it goes into the donate pile with 600-odd pages unread.

Meanwhile, I realized I had another newish, biggish, hardcover that I failed to put into my pile. Benjamin Markovitz’s You Don’t Have to Live Like This.

13 thoughts on “The first casualty

  1. Su September 10, 2016 / 11:13 am

    I’ll be interested to see what you think of Ruby when you get to that one. It’s been awhile since I read it but I remember it being full of symbolism that I ate up. Dramatic and touching. Important.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Laura C September 10, 2016 / 11:16 am

    I agree with your “review” of The Goldfinch. Unlike you, I finished it but it was a chore not a delight. The Secret History is one of my favorite books. I was very disappointed with The Goldfinch. I started bogging down when the scenes in Las Vegas went on forever. The ending was lousy too. She doesn’t seem to do endings well, in my opinion anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Karenna September 10, 2016 / 2:39 pm

    Yes! I had voted in your Twitter poll that you would not like it. It’s a good thing you didn’t finish it because, in my opinion, the first half was significantly better than the second.

    Keep up the good work with your blog. It’s very entertaining.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Eddie September 10, 2016 / 4:04 pm

    I was so sure I was going to love “The Goldfinch” but I couldn’t finish it either. Oh the shame-until I read your review. Thanks for “Queen Lucia” et al. I have gotten great recommendations from you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Liz Dexter September 11, 2016 / 2:14 am

    One out, one in, then, so a neutral outcome. Unlike my “Go to look for a new shower cubicle, buy a book” experience yesterday …

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jackie September 11, 2016 / 5:15 am

    I am halfway through PADDINGTON 4.30.
    I do not like it much but can see why you like it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Deb September 11, 2016 / 12:22 pm

    I think that writers today (especially if their first books were big successes as were Tartt’s and Yanigahara’s) don’t get the rigorous editing (including ruthless cutting) that most books need. I can understand a huge commercial writer like Stephen Kjng receiving minimal editing, but most doorstop books could easily be cut 100 pages with no loss of quality and a definite increase in the tightness of the plot. I enjoyed THE SECRET HISTORY, but I couldn’t even bring myself to crack open THE GOLDFINCH, it looked so bloated. As for A LITTLE LIFE, I was completely unimpressed with THE PEOPLE IN THE TREES and decided to skip LIFE altogether. I don’t mind a big book, but it all has to be leading to something and a lot of times today the prose just meanders. Editing (including self-editing) is a lost art.


    • Thomas September 14, 2016 / 8:34 am

      Yes. Everyone needs an editor. I could cut about 300 pages from War and Peace and it would have been a better book as well.


  8. Dottiemi September 11, 2016 / 4:48 pm

    Just dropping in as one of those who loved The Goldfinch, didn’t find it a slog at all and I’m not one for 400+pages generally! The only other from the pile that I have read is Canada which I also enjoyed. Very much looking forward to Boyd and O’Farrell, two of my favourite writers.


    • Thomas September 14, 2016 / 8:32 am

      I enjoyed The Secret History when it came out so I was predisposed to like The Goldfinch, but it didn’t work out that way.


  9. Karen K. September 14, 2016 / 3:45 am

    I did read The Goldfinch a couple of years ago and thought it had a great premise and I raced through it in a couple of days, but I hated the ending. I actually checked out A Little Life from the library the other day but now I’m not so excited about it.


    • Thomas September 14, 2016 / 8:33 am

      As you may know, I hated–hated–A Little Life for a million reasons, BUT, it was at least compelling enough for me to finish over the course of 3 days.


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