This book took me forever to read. If I had let the first half of the book get to me, I might not have finished it. However, that’s not to say I shouldn’t have put it down. After 33 hours on audio, I have finally finished this massive pointless tome.
I still feel nothing for the main character, Theo Decker. I began this book more than a year ago, put it down for almost a year, and finally decided to finish it to see if it lived up to the hype. It does not. Theo survives an accident that kills his mother in a museum as a child. He ends up with a painting of a goldfinch, that results in him becoming a part of the art underworld scene. However, in between, a lot of stuff goes down living with his father and spending time with his friend Boris.
Boris is quite the character, and perhaps my least favorite part of the story, although there are many least favorite parts. In the end, Boris’s main contribution is to philosophize on Theo’s life, adding in some optimism where there is none, and maybe shouldn’t be. He makes some decisions that initially end in Theo’s demise, but ultimately provide his salvation in a way that was not expected.
My favorite part of the book was Hobie, as he was a solid object for Theo. He provided stability and routine expectations, and unfortunately Theo took advantage of that. However, when Theo needed him, Hobie was there for him. Also in audio, the narrator’s voice seemed particularly suited for Hobie’s character.
I do have to hand it to this book, the story was all-consuming. I can see the appeal for some people, as the tragedy continues to escalate in a giant tragic spiral, but if you can’t relate to the characters, is it worth reading? I don’t think I really learned much about humanity through these characters either, although perhaps this appeals to middle class people not working with people whose lives are actually tragic in similar but much worse ways? I would still definitely recommend A Little Life if you need this itch scratched.
The writing was rather pretentious and over bearing, and I could not stand all the inane details. Where in A Little Life I couldn’t get enough of their every day lives and just wanted a few more words to draw out the story, in The Goldfinch I found myself counting down minutes, at times, laughing at the ridiculousness of the scenarios.
And the ending felt hokey, to cap it all off. I don’t want to read a book full of pessimism only to end in unreasonable amounts of optimism. I’m probably missing the point. Why did I spend 33 hours of my life listening to this book?