*****The Goldfinch

By Donna Tartt – The 1654 painting, The Goldfinch, animates the action of Donna Tartt’s third novel, which is receiving much-deserved attention (and the Pulitzer Prize). The story begins when twelve-year-old Theo is injured in a terrorist explosion at the Metropolitan Museum, and an elderly dying man orders him to pick the painting—which happens to be one of Theo’s mother’s favorites—out of the rubble. Stunned, confused, and pretty much ignored in the aftermath of the explosion, he stumbles home to show it to her. Yes, there is an over-long interlude in Las Vegas when Theo lives a feral existence with his father and delightfully reprobate Russian friend Boris, and yes, it ends with a rambling 20-page essay. Still, it’s a wonderful adventure story that at its heart is about how we decide what’s important in life, what’s real to us and worth saving, and what is simulacrum and worth saving anyway. In that essay was one of my favorite lines of the book, about how different people are strongly, inevitably drawn to certain things—“a city, a color, a time of day. The nail where your fate is liable to catch and snag.” Don’t let the length put you off–it’s a page-turner.  (2/10)