Friedman's new book is Don't Ever Look Back.
Last month I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
This isn't particularly interesting or unusual, but I've been reading Donna Tartt lately. I read The Goldfinch , and when I finished it, I went and got The Secret History, which I hadn't read before. And I am probably going to read The Little Friend next, although I've heard that one isn't as good.Visit Daniel Friedman's blog.
There's been some backlash to The Goldfinch since it won the Pulitzer this week, but it's a really excellent book, and Tartt deserves a Pulitzer at least as much as Jeffrey Eugenides.
She gets a lot of criticism for how long her books are, but she's not spending those pages writing ornate, decorative sentences. She's an expert at evoking a mood or an emotional response in the reader. In The Secret History, she gets the reader on board with the plan to murder Bunny, by tormenting everyone over hundreds of pages with his petty vindictiveness and extortion, and then she makes the reader regret it just as much as Richard does by the end of the book, by forcing you along on the trip to the funeral.
It would be easy to turn a character like Julian, the imperious classics professor, into a sort of ridiculous, effete clown. Tartt, instead, does the difficult and deliberate work of building him up into a towering romantic figure before she shreds his mystique in the back half of the book.
The Goldfinch is much more complex and ambitious than The Secret History; there's clearly a lot she's trying to accomplish. Her characters are very well-drawn, and her settings are very vivid. She creates a real sense of place around the nearly empty desert subdivision in Vegas, and around Hobie's cluttered Greenwich Village antiques shop. And you really feel Theo's distress as his life is disrupted, first by his mother's death, and then by his father reappearing to take him to Vegas.
I'm contributing a short story to an Akashic Noir anthology, so I've been reading a lot of short fiction lately as well; This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz and Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell, as well as some of the other Noir anthologies.
The Page 69 Test: Don't Ever Look Back.