January 14th, 2015

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The Goldfinch: Donna Tartt

"If Dickens were alive today..." It's a challenge every novelist in the Anglo-American tradition must have considered at some time or other and here's Donna Tartt rising to it. She takes elements from Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and -especially- Great Expectations, throws them up like spillikins and lets them fall into new and surprising patterns.  The Goldfinch is a post 9/11 bildungsroman of Dickensian scope and ambition- set in New York, Las Vegas and Amsterdam- in which cute kid Theo Decker- nicknamed "Potter" (after Harry) by his best friend- slips deeper and deeper into psychic damage and criminality. It deals with class, multiculturalism, drugs, time, love, good and evil-  and- self-reflexively, because it is very beautifully written- the  power of art to transform and transcend.