Monday Miscellany: Books, Birds, Movie(s) and Art, In Whatever Order You Choose

Well, dear readers, since I’ve now reached page eleven of my paper on Renaissance child portraiture, I’ve decided to break from the 16th century for (imagine a drum roll here) — Monday Miscellany!  This week’s miscellany will be more of a miscellaneous mess than it usually is, as the unofficial deadline for my paper is next Friday (that scream you just heard, dear readers, is Janakay having a weensy little panic attack.  Not to worry! I’m doing some deep breathing, so I’m much better now).  Because this post is largely a quick stream of consciousness, with its various parts having absolutely nothing in common with each other, feel even freer than usual to click hither and yon.  To suit my current mood, which is a visual mood, I’ll begin with photos and a quick trip down memory lane:


Back when Janakay and Mr. Janakay were busily, if not happily, employed turning out thousands (well, maybe hundreds) of pages of legal tootle, those breaks away from the law books and the bustle were made as frequently and exotically as possible.  If you want remote, exotic and sometimes (very) uncomfortable travel, then you were born to go on a professional bird tour (don’t dare ask Janakay about her camping experience on that mountainside in central Peru.  She might tell you, complete with scatological details!)  Here are a few colorful little mementos of trips past, thanks to Mr. Janakay’s awesome photographic skills (Janakay herself is far too lazy to carry that big old camera lens):

A Blue-winged Mountain Tanager, from Ecuador.  A common bird in the rain forest of the lower Andes, one of its most endearing characteristics (aside from its color) is its habit of traveling in flocks.  If you see one, it’s usually in the midst of a group of equally colorful little friends!
The big red one is a Scarlet Ibis, from Venezuela.  This species is widespread in South America and the Caribbean, not rare at all and who cares?  They’re living proof that beauty doesn’t depend on rarity!  P.S.  Standing behind our colorful friend is a Cocoi Heron, the South American equivalent of Europe’s Grey Heron and North America’s Great Blue.
A Crimson-rumped Toucanet, small but breath-taking, particularly when he has the taste to roost in an interesting bit of foliage.   The unusual tree compensates for the fact that you can’t see the bright red patch on this guy’s tail because he’s facing the wrong way.  This particular toucanet lived in Ecuador.
This serious looking fellow is a Feruginous Pygmy-owl; these are pretty wide-spread in the neotropics (this one is Venezuelan).  The photo makes him look deceptively large; as the name denotes, these are tiny little owls.  I also saw one in Texas, at a place called the King Ranch, but they’re rare in the U.S. and usually quite difficult to see.
An Orange-breasted Fruiteater, from Ecuador.  Unfortunately, he just wouldn’t turn around . . . . so you don’t get the full effect of the orange.
A Yellow-headed Caracara from Venezuela.  The U.S. has a different species of caracara, mostly in Texas.  They’re nice, but Venezuela’s is prettier, at least IMO!

And, the rarest of them all — the Kagu!  One of the most endangered birds on the planet, the Kagu lives in a small patch of preserved habitat on New Caledonia, a Pacific island (located about 750 miles or 1,210 km east of Australia) that is still affiliated with France (New Caledonia was a French territory that, I believe, rejected independence in a fairly recent vote).

Isn’t he gorgeous?  That silvery gray color has earned this species the soubriquet “the ghost of the forest.”  Since Kagus can’t fly and live on an island, they were really out of luck when people, cats, dogs and pigs moved in.  They’re hanging on, thanks to major conservation efforts, but the entire species now numbers less than a thousand birds.



Does anyone out there besides myself adore Donna Tartt’s novels?  I came late to the DT bandwagon and probably would never have read The Secret History, her first novel, had I been left to my own devices, as I had somehow gotten the impression that it was one of those sensationalist, potboiler, best-seller things.  Well, fortunately, I wasn’t — left to my own devices, that is — I had an incredibly persistent literary-minded friend who talked me into trying it.  Ten pages in and I’m a fan of Tartt and all her works!  For life!  I have totally drunk the Kool Aid (if you don’t understand this metaphor, it’s just as well).  Where has this woman been my entire reading life?  When is her next book coming out and how do I survive until it does?  Can I join her fan club?  I’m exaggerating, but not by much!

To be fair, Secret History is a bit of a sensationalist potboiler (and it did sell off the charts) but oh, my stars and whiskers, good gracious me — can that woman write!  Throw in the fact that the plot concerns a group of oddball misfits who are studying classics at an elite New England school (I studied Latin and classics, among other things, at a much more plebian state university in the New England area, so I could identify.  I and my fellow Latin students were weird!  But harmless!) and I don’t mind admitting that I was not only hooked but mainlining!  Unfortunately for those (like myself) who have addictive personalities, Tartt is not a prolific novelist.  I had to wait over a decade for her second novel, The Little Friend.  Was the wait worth it?  Weeeeell …….. sort of; not really; maybe. The incredible way with words and literary skill were as great as ever but the narrative, for me at least, was a flop.  Still — that brilliant writing, the creepy sense of atmosphere, the characters  . . . .

Another long (very long) wait and then comes — The Goldfinch!  The New York Times’ assessment (a “smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind”) was an vast understatement, in my opinion.  I was powerless before a novel named for one of my favorite paintings, particularly one with the message that “art may addict, but art also saves us from ‘the ungainly sadness of creatures pushing and struggling to live.'”  This is one long book — almost 800 pages  — and while I read it I lived in Tartt’s world and not my own.  I only wish I could read it again, for the first time, but we don’t get the same gift twice, do we?  Given my reaction to the book, you can imagine my excitement when I learned last winter that a movie was coming out in September!  Dread (“this book can’t be filmed”) warred with excitement (“I don’t care — I have to see what they do with Boris!”) and neither won.  With trepidation mixed with longing and seasoned with hope (forgive my purplish prose, dear reader, but I was très excited) I marked the opening day on my calendar with a very large red “X” and started counting down the days until the movie came to a theater near me.

You can imagine my dismay when, a week or so before the opening day, the very negative reviews started rolling in.  Strictly for the birds (so clever, the New York Times).  A movie that “lies as flat as a painting.”  (Oh, those critics! so entertaining!)  The Washington Post critic, not to be outdone by her colleagues, didn’t like the movie either but couldn’t come up with anything clever to say; she had to settle on being offended by its “unmistakable air of unexamined privilege” and the WASPY sounding names of several of the characters (the novel is partly set in New York City’s Upper East Side, for gosh sakes!  Of course the characters are privileged! Do we need to examine the socio-politico basis for it?)  Oh, and she couldn’t sympathize with the main character, whom she found to be self-pitying (in case you can’t tell, I have severe reservations about WaPo’s movie critic, whom I’ve been stuck with reading for years).   Perhaps I am being just a little unfair; no one, but no one, had a kind word to say about Goldfinch: the Movie.  Critical opinion was so unanimous that the movie was an awful waste of time that even I, much as I loved the story, almost decided to skip the movie.

Last Friday, however, flush with the triumph of finishing page eight of my draft (did I mention I have a paper due this week? Oh, I did!) I made my way to the nearest art house theater that served alcohol and settled in for two hours and thirty minutes of “fabulous book into lousy movie” disappointment.  And — I wasn’t disappointed!  Was the movie as good as the novel?  Of course not; it never is!  Did it have faults?  Oh yes — it was definitely a bit slow at times, and there were certainly things I didn’t like (some of the casting; the fragmented narrative) but on the whole I thought it was, actually, pretty good.  And definitely worth seeing despite the flaws.  But then, what do I know, compared to all the professional critics who panned it?  My reaction was possibly due to a case of reverse expectations, i.e., the reviews were so very bad, my expectations were so very low, that anything short of a disaster would have made me happy.  Perhaps I simply liked the novel so much that I’d put up with anything, just to see the characters on a screen in front of me.  A mystery inside an enigma, to misquote a great man.

Have any of you, dear readers, seen the movie? If so, I’d really like to hear your reaction.  Has anyone read The Goldfinch, or either of Tartt’s other two novels?  Ditto! (and it’s o.k. if you’re not a fan!  Despite my DT worship I can understand how others might be less smitten by her art.  How very boring it would be, if we all liked the same things, wouldn’t it?)  It’s almost a truism to say we’re always disappointed when a favorite book is made into a movie — what’s been your experience?  Mine is usually “I hate, hate, hate the movie,” which is why I’m so interested in the fact that this time my reaction was actually quite different.  The only comparable situation I can think of personally was David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas; a complex and wonderful novel made into a sort of C+ movie that I sort of C+ liked!  Any thoughts?


Any René Magritte fans out there? (as I recall, Silvia likes his work!).  I don’t know much about 20th century art but it’s hard to resist Magritte.  Don’t we all need to have our world view shifted just a little at times?  Magritte is very, very good at that!  This painting is titled, for no particular reason that I know of, Sixteenth of September, which just happens to be today’s date (from where I’m typing at least).  I’d like to say I thought of the painting myself, but truth compels me to give credit where it’s due — the New York Times’ daily cooking newsletter!  Thrown in gratis, along with a recipe for meatloaf with carmelized cabbage!  (If you’re interested, the newsletter also recommended Lara Prescott’s debut thriller, The Secrets We Keep.  Has anyone read it yet?)

Rene Magritte’s “Sixteenth of September,” painted in 1956.



24 thoughts on “Monday Miscellany: Books, Birds, Movie(s) and Art, In Whatever Order You Choose

  1. I was thinking about you yesterday, I thought that your blog silence was due to your paper, and wondered how the paper is going. I know you’ll nail it in the end. Like The Little Engine that Could, “you can do it, you can do it.”

    The birds. Oh, those pictures are amazing. Thank Mr. Janakay for carrying that heavy lens and taking them. I love how you tell us about the things the poses are hiding, LOL. Some are birds I didn’t know, others, as you well mention, counterparts of birds we have and I have seen in those old days when we used to go bird watching at the Houston Sanctuary Park, or parks around the area.

    I have a DT’s story. I once heard of her book The Secret History, bought it and started to read it. It trapped me fast. When I got to the dark part, I started to have a strong reaction, -I supposed it’s written that well, that it truly became unsettling-. From there, I left with a bit of distrust. At the time I also was watching a TV show that I had to stop as well, -too violent-, “How to get away with murder.” I mixed both things in my head, and stopped both.

    When The Goldfinch came out, it happened to me what almost happened to you with the movie. Mostly negative reviews wherever I looked, dissuaded me to read it. But I do remember DT writing EXTREMELY WELL. And if she’s a postmodern writer, we’ll understand her characters are lost in life, there won’t be any happy endings, or characters to sympathize with, as it’s the case of Great Gasby, for example, or even clearer, Madame Bovary. She’s writing, -and forgive my daring, for I haven’t read it and I’m here judging it-, about millennial people and those around them, and that’s how they live and think. Reading your post I have no doubt that she’s of literary quality. Your pleas for more books from her remind me of my anguish over how few books Ishiguro has published. Sigh. Maybe we appreciate them more this way. And her books are long.

    Another anecdote around The Secret History, was that I read how the book, being long, was published in a way that it seems it’s not that long, how that’s something that printers can achieve, -to make a long book appear ‘normal’, ha ha ha. If few, her books are long.

    As an art lover myself, I am probably meant to love the book. My Name is Asher Lev is a favorite of mine strongly because it deals with a painter, -as the author was an artist too, beside a writer-.

    Which takes me to the movie. Again, without having watch it, (and now I’m decided to read the book, and rent the movie if it’s already available that way when I’m finished with the book), I can tell you that the critics seem to have all taken a conservative view of not making any waves, and are all united into slaughtering it. I just finished watching Days of Heaven this weekend, and The Goldfinch may have come at the wrong time. It may be the case that, as time passes, it gains a different respect. It sounds like it’s a movie like Malick’s movies, very “antimovie”. It may just be mediocre, but if it’s trying to portray an already “difficult to like” in the sense of “to please” the public type of view, what’s its luck of delighting? I’m willing to give both book and movie a try after your post. I went from distrust to trust. That’s what reading friends do to you, ha ha ha, which I appreciate. I love when I go back to something I missed, overlooked, or misjudged, and when I find those hidden riches in it.

    Were you the one who told me that Mr. Janakay’s favorite movie is Days of Heaven? (Maybe it was another of my blogging buddies). If he was, I agree with that, if not, watch Malick, any and all. I am doing so. I’m lucky that my friend has all his movies. I’m missing two, -maybe he doesn’t have the newest one, A Hidden Life, if that’s the case, after I watched the other two, I may be buying it, and letting him borrow it. We’ve become addictive to him as well, ha ha ha.

    And yes, you got that right, I’m a huge fan of Magritte! I loved seeing this painting today, 16th of September. I don’t know how he does it, but his paintings demand that we stop and look at them, and think, and look some more. Mesmerizing.

    I’m going to be relieved and so happy when you turn in the paper.

    Thanks for this miscellaneous post, they are my favorite.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Silvia: as always, enjoyed the comments (I wouldn’t DREAM of editing! I didn’t notice anything awry with your tenses, either; I do that kind of thing all the time). I’m glad you enjoyed the photos; I hadn’t looked at them in a long time and it was fun for me to go through them again. I’m afraid that doing so made me restless, however, as it’s been some time since I went birding, especially on an exotic birding trip. Lucky you, to live in Texas, where there’s ALWAYS something to see! Not so in my area (mid-Atlantic), particularly after spring migration.
      I can understand your reaction to Tartt’s Secret History. It does get very dark indeed, as well as pretty intense and we don’t always want that, do we? And, quite honestly, she just isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. When (or if) you ever have the time/patience, you might like The Golfinch more than Secret History; it’s less dark (although it does have some of the old ultra-violence — sorry, couldn’t resist channeling Clockwork Orange!) and is mainly concerned big-theme wise, with art and the role that it can (sometimes) play in our lives. Tartt is very perceptive about paintings (I suspect she’s looked at many, many of them); I particularly enjoyed that aspect of the book. I found her description of The Goldfinch painting overwhelming; I had always liked the painting but her take on it really made me look at it differently; quite honestly, I found the painting almost painful to look at, afterwards, but I also found I understood more about it and why it’s so powerful. Being Tartt, the novel has lots and lots of exposition, which isn’t to everyone’s taste; I actually like that (at least in this case) andI found myself making a list of the painters she mentioned! There are also lots of references, sometimes subtle, to other literary classics: Theo is a Dickensian orphan (and no, he’s not likeable at time but neither is Pip in Great Expectations); Theo’s father’s a Dickensian villain; Pippa is probably an allusion to Browning’s “Pippa Passes;” I’m sure there’s something in Dickens corresponding to Boris (should ask Ruthiella about all these Dickens resemblances; I’ve never read much of his work); there’s a recognition scene involving a dog that, I swear, Tartt lifted straight from Homer (didn’t Odysseus’ old dog recognize him on his return to Ithaca, after so many years away?) and so on. I think you summed the novel up very perceptivevely — “post modern” (wish I’d thought of that!). It you’re debating whether to invest the time, Stephen King’s review in the NYT, written shortly after The Goldfinch was published, is pretty perceptive. He loved it, but did have some reservations about its length.
      Re Mallick’s Days of Heaven — we DID have something of a Mallick discussion awhile back, after you had watched Badlands, which I had never seen (I watched it after our discussion! A most excellent movie). Didn’t you think the narrator in Badlands was similar to the little girl’s “voice” in Days of Heaven? That sort of morally neutral way of looking at the world and a certain emotional distance, combined with (very) clear observation? Speaking of which, how did you like Days? I love it, it’s absolutely one of my favorites and, yes, Mr. Janakay’s as well. My local art house showed it a few weeks ago and I made a point of going; it must be my 5th or 6th time to see the movie, which hasn’t lost any of its power as far as I’m concerned. And wasn’t the opening wonderful? That photo montage, accompanied by the sort of shivery, dreaming music? Many years ago I tracked it down; Saint-Saen’s Carnival of the Animals (section, “The Aquarium” — I’m listening to it now, this discussion has put me in the mood!). Perfect music for a really timeless story. Isn’t it odd how a narrative as closely linked to time and place as Days is also quite timeless?
      I’m so glad you enjoyed the Magritte painting. As I said, I wish I had thought of it but when I saw it in the NYT newsletter, I couldn’t resist using it myself; aside from everything else, it’s really beautiful. One of these days, I’m going to have to spend some time on Magritte’s art, about which I know very little.
      Oh, before I forget — thanks for the referencce to Asher Lev. I had heard the title, but didn’t know anything about the book, particularly that it involved art. I did a little research on it — it sounds great; when I have time I’ll probably give it a try.


      1. Awwww
        You got me with Homer’s dog in the Odyssey! And all the art. And the way of looking at The Goldfinch. Everything you say truly points to a book I would love. I just didn’t have any reader friend as reference, and the divided reviews plus the previous experience with Secret History made me not interested.
        Now I am very interested. I remember well having loved her style right away. The intellectual and philosophical side of her appeals to me as well.
        Days of Heaven! AMAZING. When I homeschooled we listen to Saint Saen. And that’s exactly what I will do tomorrow.
        I have a couple of posts on Magritte. A friend who taught art and homeschooled her kids for a while, wrote a list of favorite books and I have read many. One of them is a biography of Magritte that was amazing to read. I will send you links to her blog lists and my post, for whenever you have time only if you want. She also was obsessed with Magritte when she was in her twenties like me. The biography showed me why I love him. Because he was a language lover and very philosophical too.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I adore Magritte – thank you for sharing that one!

    As for Donna Tartt, I read and loved “The Secret History” when it came out, but really was underwhelmed by “The Little Friend”, so I never went on to read “The Goldfinch”. I always think the book is better anyway, so maybe I will one day! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Kaggsy! It’s nice to know you enjoyed the Magritte. I particularly like this one because it’s so beautifully mysterious. As for Ms Tartt, I had a pretty negative reaction to The Little Friend as well. I really enjoyed the style and was getting into the story and then the whole thing fell really, really flat; so much so that my reaction was of the “what was THAT all about” and “why bother” variety. It did make me hesitate about trying Goldfinch, particularly given its length (it also bothered me that Tartt put the painting in NYC’s Met instead of the Mauritshuis, where it belonged! I CAN be obsessive!). As you can tell, however, my reaction to her third novel was quite enthused!

      BTW I don’t think I left a comment, but I loved your posting on the Goncharova exhibition awhile back. I’d never even heard of her, which is a shame as her art looks so very interesting. The exhibition sounded amazing and I loved her self-portrait (that’s a whole fascinating topic, isn’t it? Women artists’ self-portraits?)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Beautifully mysterious does sum up Magritte for me – one of my favourite ones is in this post I did!

        The Goncharova exhibition *was* brilliant and the whole subject of women artists and their self portraits is a fascinating one, which informed the wonderful book “Selfies” I read and reviewed recently:

        Frida Kahlo of course springs to mind, but one of my favourites ever is by Zinaida Serebriakova and you can see it here –

        It’s stunning!


      2. Oh Kaggsy, you are bad, bad, bad for my book budget! I remember reading your “Selfies” post and thinking Weil’s book was quite up my alley; I didn’t get it then because it wasn’t available in the U.S., I was busy and I moved along to something else. Now that you’ve reminded me . . . (supply the rest). Oh, and BTW, I managed to find a copy of VSW’s The Death of Noble Godavary. I’m reading it in very little chunks, which is nice and — you and Simon were totally right. It’s a really, really good read.
        Back to book budget: I now must have something on surrealist art! I love German Expressionist painting (took a wonderful course in “modern” art) but haven’t had much of a chance to look beyond it to other 20th century things. Magritte’s Empire of Light is wonderful — it really IS hard to stop staring at it.
        Re selfies: Frieda’s are indeed great but then — so was Zinaida’s! (she’s now also on the list to explore further) Thanks for the link–I agree, totally stunning. Are you familiar with Paula Modersohn-Becker? I wasn’t, until I saw a fascinating exhibition on self-portraits at NYC’s Neue Gallerie. Here’s a link to an article, with a pretty good repro of one of her selfies; I believe I read somewhere that it’s one of the first times a woman artist painted herself while pregnant (Becker died at an early age, from complications of childbirth).
        So much art to see, so many books to read — glass half empty, or half full?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Sorry to be a bad influence again (not really) and I’m glad you’re enjoying the Vita.

        Thanks also for nudging me in the direction of Modersohn-Becker – I had heard of her but never really investigated deeply. I like the German Expressionism I’ve seen so maybe I need to explore a little more – so many books (and so much art!) and so little time… ;D

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I am glad to hear you have 11 pages written! Well done. 😀

    How long would it take for a flightless bird to learn how to fly again? I wonder if it has ever happened?

    I do like Donna Tartt novels. Even the much maligned The Little Friend which I think is pretty good. I think what it really suffered from is readers’ expectations. I read it many years later, however, more as an afterthought. Tartt has her weaknesses; they don’t bother me but I recognize them. Let’s just say she doesn’t write sentences that sketch a character in just a few words. That’s not her style. I think of her novels as being indulgent. I like long, indulgent novels often. I like being in the same world for a longer period of time.

    OMG, I haven’t seen the film yet but YES, my main concern was that Boris was done RIGHT! He is my favorite character from the book. Again, I can only reference the book but to the criticism that the main character is unsympathetic and self-pitying…he totally is. I thought Theo was annoying. But I still liked the book because I liked the story and wanted to know where it was going.

    Normally I skip a movie if I’ve read the book. Which means I will probably not see The Goldfinch. Generally, if I’ve seen the film AND read the book, it is because I saw the movie first and that inspired me to read the book. I think maybe Dune is the best example of this. The David Lynch movie was panned but I saw it as a teenager and loved it. I then read the book many years later and REALLY loved that. I’ve not since seen the film, I understand why it was a difficult book to bring to movie screen. I have since also seen the 2000 miniseries, which I liked. And just to bring it full circle, I re-read Dune about five years ago and still admired it as a masterpiece but did think there could have been better, stronger female characters and that Paul Atreides was kind of a Gary Stu.

    The only thing I know about Magritte off hand is the “c’est ne pas un pipe” picture. I leave the art application to you and Silvia. I am a philistine. Ha ha.

    I’ve not hear of The Secrets We Keep but I have to admit, thrillers tend to disappoint me. They have to be pretty preposterous to work and that narrative scaffolding usually bothers me when reading.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh Ruthiella– a fellow lover of Dune AND Boris!!! I’m so excited! Boris was absolutely the best — he made the whole novel come alive, as far as I’m concerned. I actually thought the Las Vegas section, which many found jarring, to be the strongest section of the novel. It’s too bad that the Hollywood money guys (or whoever finances these things) didn’t bankroll The Goldfinch as a mini-series or something, which would have allowed more time for the story to settle in. You’re a Dickens fan, right? Didn’t you find the novel very Dickensian? The orphan theme, the finding one’s way in the world and so on? Admittedly, I haven’t read much of Dickens, but it seemed to me that the characters could have almost stepped out of an updated Dickens. You’d probably have a better feel for this than I but — Hoby, for gosh sakes! Even the name sounds Dickensian! I agree that Theo was a bit whiny (although he DID have lots to whine about) and not particularly likable, but it didn’t bother me unduly. I had the same reaction to Pip in Great Expectations; it was only after I realized it was o.k. to hate Pip that I could relax and enjoy his story.

    As for Dune, I totally agree — one of the great sci-fi classics, with themes that go outside the genre (ecology, genetic manipulation, corruption of power, jihad!). I’ve re-read it a few times, although not recently; it’s really held up IMO in a way that the Foundation trilogy did not. I will say, however, that I didn’t make it through all the Dune volumes, of which there were many. I think I only read the first three or so. Also, I don’t think that the cinematic/TV treatments did the story justice, although I liked the Lynch movie a bit more than the critics did.

    Re Magritte: I don’t know much more about his work then a few images. He’s an intriguing artist, however, along with several of the other surrealists. I’d like to spend a little time looking at some of their work. One day. As for being a philistine — aw, shucks! You’re being far too modest! No true philistine would have known that fancy French title!

    Like you, I’m not much of a thriller reader; I prefer my unrealistic plots in a sci-fi or horror setting! Thrillers can also be a bit too macho for my taste, at least some of them, but perhaps I’m being unfair! They can’t all be written by Tom Clancy clones can they?


  5. Kaggsy, Ruthiella, I love the indulgent comments you leave.

    I need to go back to my Magritte post and maybe even write more.

    I love what you share about Tartt and Dune. I was obsessed with David Lynch, and I too read the book after.

    My book/ movie relationship is more random. But like Ruthiella, if I like a movie I usually read the book. I did that with Remains of the Day, Hunger Games, The Name of the Rose, etc.

    I must add that I am so pumped to be part of the conversation. I learn so much from you, ladies.


    1. Hi Silvia! Yes, The Name of the Rose and Remains of the Day are also two movies I saw first and enjoyed so much I sought out the book afterwards. For The Hunger Games, I’ve only read the first book.

      I wish I could expound on The Goldfinch and Dickens but alas it wasn’t until I read the reviews that pointed it that I saw the light. Orphans, obviously *cue facepalm*. Hoby is totally a Dickensian character. So much of Theo’s crazy life resembles a complicated Dickensian plot where coincidences abound, no minor charterer is too minor and all the threads finally come together by the end. Boris, if he has a Dickens parallel, would maybe be an updated Artful Dodger. And maybe in some ways the Vegas section mimics more Oliver Twist. But as Janakay notes above, Great Expectations no doubt influenced Tartt when writing The Goldfinch. Pip is totally an ungrateful pain in the a** in that book, not unlike Theo. Pip’s denial and shame of Joe Gargery breaks my heart every time I think of it. Still, it is a great book. And I agree Janakay, the Las Vegas scenes in The Goldfinch were great.

      If you ever feel like you have the time and inclination, go back and read The Little Friend and consider it like a Greek tragedy wherein the doomed fates of two families are inextricably linked.

      You know, Tartt puts about 10 years between her books’ publications (1992, 2002 and 2013) which means were due for her fourth book in only a couple of years! 😀


      1. Ruthiella: nice suggestion about a Little Friend re-read! It’ll have to wait a bit but it’s something I’m definitely up for. All I wanted to do last weekend was re-dip into Goldfinch; compromised by writing about it! I hadn’t thought of the Little Friend/Greek tragedy parallel — brilliant! This is why I got involved with blogging! It totally makes more sense of the novel.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. This is what is making me want to read it. I just bought it, btw. Great Expectations is a Dickens I have read and same, Pip breaks my heart and at the same time I can’t help but liking him. I relate. The ungratefulness because of our hubris and lack of maturity and appreciation, is one of my favorite themes in literature and something I identify in life.
        I believe that she is a modern classic writer, the more I think about it. It makes sense that she’s loved or hated too.
        Understanding the other book as a Greek tragedy could totally change our view of it.
        I’m very intrigued, and hoping to see a new book by her and Ishiguro too (who publishes very scarcely too).

        Liked by 1 person

      3. The Hunger Games books are SUPER EASY to read. I personally believe the movies are well done. Having read the books helped me add more depth to the movie experience. While they are nothing spectacular, literary speaking, they are great for moral questions, and I like the characters and their interactions, they are good for young people.



    I must write a post on Karen, to introduce her to all of you. Sad thing that she’s not actively blogging anymore, but she’s left us some good stuff.
    I also wish she published her history of art books, she sent me the beginning of one, and it’s not plain history, it’s more convetsational and yes, she goes through art history and gives us insightful and wise information to understand and thus enjoy art.


  7. I’m glad that you enjoyed the movie, despite all the reviews! I have only read The Secret History, that I did like and rattle through (though, as a twin, one of the twists that people ALWAYS seem to do with twins really annoyed me). One advantage to chiefly reading dead authors is that there is no long wait for their next, I guess!


  8. Hi Simon! nice of you to stop by! I can imagine how annoying the “twin twist” in literature must be (it can be a bit overworked, can’t it?). And, yes, going in for dead authors does mean never having to wait for that next book! Speaking of which (dead authors, that is) your review of The Death of Noble Godavary awhile back did get me started on VSW. Godavary was a fun read (wonderful prose and I loved the atmosphere, even if things did get a bit melodramatic at the end). Next on my VSW list is “The Heir” and “Seducers in Ecuador” . . . maybe The Edwardians when I have a little more time.


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