Sunday, June 1, 2014

May - Why can't we live together in secret?



There is no time.

I only read one book in May. Actually I only listened to one audiobook.

The Secret HistoryThe Secret History by Donna Tartt (novel, audiobook)

My plan was that reading The Secret History would help me decide if I needed to read Tartt's latest, The Goldfinch, which has polarised reviewers and readers.

And this plan worked.

While I thought The Secret History was expertly set up (a good prologue that establishes the first half as a whydunnit rather than a whodunnit) and there's enough prolepsis laced through the early stages to make it kinda thrilling... the second half felt slacker.

For a book of this length, it's surprisingly single-minded. I was going to say focused, but there are a number of scenes in the second half that feel drawn out (eg the visit to the Corcorans in Connecticut) and to me 'focused' implies 'tight', but The Secret History is decidedly baggy.

Then there's the fact Hampton College and its cohort of six Ancient Greek students and their teacher is some kind of American upper-middle class wet dream. The Great Gatsby is invoked early on, as if by naming it, Tartt can distance herself from comparisons to it. I found the whole thing fantastic, in the sense that it is the product of a fantastical mind, rather than top-shelf.

Anyway, I'm clearly in the No thanks camp when it comes to The Goldfinch, which sounds a bit more sprawling and a bit more druggy (and hence more tedious) that The Secret History.