My Literary Obsession (aka ode to donna tartt)

Whatever else can be said about 2021, it was a FANTASTIC year for reading. I started a booktube channel this year, which meant that I was introduced to the beautiful world of the online book community, and was introduced to so many fascinating and beautiful books as a result.

But my all-time favorite literary discovery from this year was that of the work of Donna Tartt. I read all three of her published works this year and they opened up a whole new world for me. I’m not sure I can adequately convey in words the way that her writing makes me feel. She is so lavishly eloquent, spilling out words with zero regard for conciseness, (which is a very overrated quality these days in my opinion) and has the ability to make settings and characters so real I’m convinced they breathe. I read The Secret History first in April and found it a dark yet fascinating exploration of the more degenerate side of human nature, the story so perfectly encapsulated by it’s opening lines, “I think that (my fatal flaw) is this: a morbid longing for the picturesque at all costs.”

And then I read The Goldfinch, which has since become my all time favorite book ever. It drew me in like no other book has since I discovered L.M Montgomery’s novels as an eight-year-old. And while I finished it only five months ago, this past week as I was looking for something to read I found myself gravitating toward it again and now I’m reading it for a second time. Let me tell you, it’s very rare for me to find a book I adore so much that I want to read it twice in one year, but The Goldfinch is pure magic. The tiniest of descriptions, the most fragmentary of feelings depicted in this book has the ability to haunt me for days, from describing a girl’s looks as having”an autumn-leaf lucidity: rusty eyebrows, honey-brown eyes.” to describing a character as having a quality of “slinky, ermine grace.” She has a way of stringing words together in a way both unique and startling; you don’t expect to see those words together, but they paint a picture in your mind more bright than any other words do simply because of their unexpectedness. I still think about these phrases from her other book The Little Friend, which I read in August. The “shrieking, bright vivacity” of women’s voices and “the moist, cicada shrieking gloom”. So atmospheric. So dark. So perfectly descriptive.

It takes Donna Tartt approximately a decade to write a book. She’s published one about every ten years since 1992 (which means there will hopefully be another one really soon? Literally praying.) But the length of time that she puts into writing her books makes so much sense when you read them because they are the most perfectly crafted masterpieces I have ever experienced. It feels like every word was chosen specifically to evoke an emotion, to paint a picture, to ingrain a story deeply within the reader’s heart.

So yes, I’m reading the Goldfinch again. I may or may not be thinking about doing a short little fan-fic on it too and posting it here on the blog. Sound like something you lovely readers might want to see? Let me know! Anyway, yes this entire post was just me obsessing over Donna Tartt solely because the world needs more of that. Re-reading her words gives me the same high that reading the Anne of Green Gables books over and over as a kid gave me then and I love it. I still think L.M. Montgomery has penned some of the most beautiful words ever written, but I feel like I’m too jaded and old and to enjoy her work the way I once did. Donna, on the other hand has dark subject matter for days and I will never not be obsessed with the way she portrays some of the most heartbreaking and raw feelings of the human experience in a glassy and numb yet all too poignant fashion.

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