Saturday, April 2, 2016

It's Over

It'll be hard to kick the habit of reading, and I may fail, but I am entering a super busy time, and I can't read any more novels for a while! Ack! I'm glad I went out in a blaze of gold-feathered glory with The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. It seems people either love this one or hate it, so I am among the lovers.

One friend found it "tedious." I never found it tedious, but I did bog down a bit in the parts about casual drug use. I guess that's tit for tat with the narrator talking about "the boring part" of It's a Wonderful Life, referring to the love scene and singing of "Buffalo Gals." So we're even steven on that.

But I loved being dropped in a Dickens-like or Dostoyevsky-like plot with plenty of characters to care about and cringe at, and I loved the philosophical moments, earned by both narrator and author.

Here's one:

Only here's what I really, really want someone to explain to me. What if one happens to be possessed of a heart that can't be trusted---?  What if the heart, for its own unfathomable reasons, leads one willfully and in a cloud of unspeakable radiance away from health, domesticity, civic responsibility and strong social connections and all the blandly-held common virtues and instead straight towards a beautiful flare of ruin, self-immolation, disaster? 

You hear the narrator's earnestness here, and also the terrible danger.

If your deepest self is singing and coaxing you straight toward the bonfire, is it better to turn away?Stop your ears with wax? Ignore all the perverse glory your heart is screaming at you? Set yourself on the course that will lead you dutifully towards the norm, reasonable hours and regular medical check-ups, stable relationships and steady career advancement, the New York Times and brunch on Sunday, all with the promise of being somehow a better person? it better to throw yourself head first and laughing into the holy rage calling your name? 

I don't know the answer to these questions,* but 1) I think it's important to ask them and 2) I have known people who had to throw themselves into the bonfire. I don't want to judge them! I want to understand them, and this book helps me with that, and it also comforts me, as I am, while not as wild as this fellow, still not on that path-to-the-norm that leads in the opposite direction. I'm on a meandering path, as I've mentioned before, and I like "the boring part" of It's a Wonderful Life as well as the sometimes cut-from-late-night-television scene of the floor over the swimming pool coming apart, etc. It is a wonderful life, but much harder for people with PTSD or disaster or crappy circumstances. They don't get to fall laughing from a dance floor into a perfectly safe swimming pool when the earth opens up and swallows them.

April is about to swallow me: poem a day for National Poetry Month, various events and writing deadlines, work, and the daily chores. Much as I'd like to be a slattern on Slattern Day, I'm doing the laundry....

*Nor do I know why it's "towards" in one spot and "toward" in another. What is the difference between the two? (OK, fine if this the boring part of the blog post.)

Thanks to Wikimedia and the public domain for Jimmy Stewart and Red Kimono on Roof by John Sloan. Thanks to Donna Tartt, Carel Fabritius, Mother Nature,and the Audubon Society for the goldfinch.


Susan said...

I loved The Goldfinch too!

Collagemama said...

Thanks for the Sloan painting!

Kathleen said...

Good to hear from you both! Another John Sloan painting is in one of my poems!

seana graham said...

Good luck with the poem a day or whatever you're doing for National Poetry Month!

jeronimus said...

We seem to be reading the same books at the moment. I just finished The Goldfinch last week. I love Donna Tartt's writing style. She's a genius with characterization and descriptiom. I felt as if I knew the characters in real life.
Maybe the ending was a bit of a mess, but it didn't spoil the story for me, and I enjoyed the philosophy too.

Kathleen said...

Yes, philosophy, story, characters! Yay!