One of my favorite books of all time is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I know there is a movie coming out soon based on the the book, but I don’t think I can go see the film. The entire reason that I love the book so much is in the writing. It is the one book that spoke to me so very clearly about my love for art. The obsessive quality of it. And we artists are addicted to our craft. Even if you consider yourself a hack at painting, there is still that nagging feeling that we have to create and that no matter what, we are addicted. I have had many students over the years wear such a halo of pure longing about them… a search, a quest that they fear will not be attained.
I have it too.
The book is huge so it is a very long read but so worth it. It was one of the few books that made me stay up until the wee hours of the night reading and the characters wouldn’t leave my mind during the day. It is tragic and sorrowful. Surprising and shocking. Yet the writing is so freakin’ eloquent that I felt I was in inserted into and standing in front of a masterpiece. Like staring at Michelangelo’s David. It is one of the few books that I think rivals the work of my crazily-talented 19-year old daughter. Not even kidding. She has ruined me for most books. I can’t even get through half of them since they don’t compare to her way of writing. Trust me. One day you will be reading her work as well.
But for now I hope you get the chance to read The Goldfinch.
Here is one of my favorite quotes:
“If a painting really works down in your heart and changes the way you see, and think, and feel, you don’t think, ‘oh, I love this picture because it’s universal.’ ‘I love this painting because it speaks to all mankind.’ That’s not the reason anyone loves a piece of art. It’s a secret whisper from an alleyway. Psst, you. Hey kid. Yes, you. … You see one painting, I see another, the art book puts it at another remove still, the lady buying the greeting card at the museum gift shop sees something else entirely, an that’s not even to mention the people separated from us by time -four hundred years before us, four hundred years after we’re gone- it’ll never strike anybody the same way and the great majority of people it’ll never strike in any deep way at all but- a really great painting is fluid enough to work its way into the mind and heart through all kinds of different angles, in ways that are unique and very particular. Yours, yours. I was painted for you.”
― Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch
I listened to it as an audiobook, and the story filled my home. I was almost in grief after it was over, that the people and places were suddenly out of reach. And it is so much about art and culture, and the whole subtext of the painting and the caged goldfinch telling the story about creativity kept in a cage, and what it does to our song. Thanks for sharing this.
Go see the movie. It’s a great adaptation of the book — stays pretty much true to form.
I loved it too!!