Donna Tartt

Primer: Donna Tartt is a 53-year old writer from Mississippi. She has written only three novels and she released them in 1992, 2002 and 2013. Each of those novels is nearly 600 pages long. She rarely gives any interviews.

This was one of my major goals for this summer. I had already read The Secret History by Tartt and after reading that book, I seriously believed that she was an author unlike anyone I had ever read. Some thoughts from right after I finished the book:

An attrocious act, on the face of it, but surprisingly towards the end, I was
empathising with their situation, and although, I feel that this may not have
been the best course, I can't question the decision that they made to kill their
friend. That, only because of some really involved and amazing writing!

This was in December 2015, nearly 30 months ago. Both her other books: The Goldfinch and The Little Friend are 700 pages long and I have found some great excuses in these 30 months to never pick them up.

This summer (the first after finishing college), I was determined to finish one of these books. I was confident that if I didn’t finish this book right now, and tried to pick it up after I started working, I would almost certainly never read this book. That wasn’t acceptable to me.

Anyway, after reading The Goldfinch, I realized that Tartt is really something. I couldn’t let her third and only book I hadn’t read left unread. So, once again I started reading her third and final novel. Now, I have read all three of her books and I can’t be more happy that I decided to spend this time on her books because they have been a lot more than just another novel.

I can’t choose a favourite Tartt novel (I know, it’s cliché to say that). It’s because I look at her work as a whole. All three of her novels (and anything else she releases later) seem to be a part of the same treatise: A treatise about life, drugs, beliefs, people and unused time.

In all three novels, the inciting event is a fairly content protagonist who does something unconventional. Something that they can’t or aren’t willing to explain to the reader. Why did Richard change his major to the classics? Why did Theo take the painting out of the museum? Why did Harriet feel so obsessed over finding out the real story behind Robin’s death? I like to think that they did these things because they were meandering, they didn’t know where they were going and needed to do something, good or bad, that would set in concrete the path they would set out on.

The stories of Richard, Theo and Harriet go through a lot of stunning twists and turns. One doesn’t believe a 12 year old capable of stealing a snake and attempting to kill someone. One doesn’t believe someone could steal a 400 year old painting from a museum and never see it once, for a whole decade! There is no lowest common multiple that binds these stories together.

But somehow, they still feel connected.