The Books We Can’t Forget: The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt (no spoilers)

“Only here’s what I really, really want someone to explain to me. What if one happens to be possessed of a heart that can’t be trusted–? What if the heart, for its own unfathomable reasons, leads one willfully and in a cloud of unspeakable radiance away from health, domesticity, civic responsibility and strong social connections and all the blandly-held common virtues and instead straight toward a beautiful flare of ruin, self-immolation, disaster?…If your deepest self is singing and coaxing you straight toward the bonfire, is it better to turn away? Stop your ears with wax? Ignore all the perverse glory your heart is screaming at you? Set yourself on the course that will lead you dutifully towards the norm, reasonable hours and regular medical check-ups, stable relationships and steady career advancement the New York Times and brunch on Sunday, all with the promise of being somehow a better person? Or…is it better to throw yourself head first and laughing into the holy rage calling your name?” -The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

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The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt, is a contraversial piece of literature. Many critics are scornful of the book’s success, saying that it isn’t well written, or that it is too long. I agree that there are some odd plot choices, and her female characters could be a little more dimensional, but overall this has become a book that I can’t get out of my head. Without spoilers, here are a few reasons why I enjoyed this read, and highly recommend it.

Part of the reason I like this story so much, is that we do spend an absurd  amount of time in the main character, Theo’s, head. Theo isn’t a very likable character, but he does grow on you. I relate to the darkness inside of him, and to his observations of the world and his own character. Due to the things he goes through, Theo spends a lot of time feeling guilty and isolated, self medicating, wandering aimlessly, feeling indifferent or apathetic about the world around him. If you have never had feelings like this, I can completely understand why you would grow to hate this book. It reminds me of when I read Paint it Black, by Janet Fitch. The main character in that book had suffered a great loss, and her grief was so intense that it became annoying to me. I ended up hating the book with a passion, but I have never experienced a similar loss. Maybe it takes a certain level of darkness, or fascination with darkness to appreciate Theo’s journey.

His friend Boris is equally brilliant. Boris is a force of nature, the type of person who focuses on the tangible, because fuck the past, there is only the now and the next. You wouldn’t think someone like that could be so perceptive, but he will surprise you. At one point he observes Theo’s perspective on the world and comments, “Well—I have to say I personally have never drawn such a sharp line between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ as you. For me: that line is often false. The two are never disconnected. One can’t exist without the other. As long as I am acting out of love, I feel I am doing best I know how. But you—wrapped up in judgment, always regretting the past, cursing yourself, blaming yourself, asking ‘what if,’ ‘what if.’ ‘Life is cruel.’ ‘I wish I had died instead of.’ Well—think about this. What if all your actions and choices, good or bad, make no difference to God? What if the pattern is pre-set? No no—hang on—this is a question worth struggling with. What if our badness and mistakes are the very thing that set our fate and bring us round to good? What if, for some of us, we can’t get there any other way?” And the academy award for best supporting actor goes to….

The Goldfinch is full of unlikeable characters, but unlikeable does not mean simple. I once knew a Xandra (you’ll see!) in real life, and it’s almost like she was copy and pasted onto the page and put under a microscope. Even if you have a hard time wrapping your head around some of the plot, I highly recommend suspending disbelief and giving this book a shot. Anyone with a little bit of darkness inside them will surely get something out of it.

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The Kid Question

With 9 days left in my 20’s I realize that I have hit a certain age. The fact that I became engaged a year ago has also contributed, but I am now getting the baby question… a LOT. When am I going to have kids? How old am I? I’ve gone from having plenty of time, to having time left. Whenever myself or my fiancé hold a friend’s baby we get to roll our eyes in private at the obligatory don’t you look comfortable holding babies, or watch out, she’s got baby fever comments. Aside from the absurd lack of boundaries people have with other people’s choices regarding children, it does have me thinking. DO I WANT KIDS?

What may seem like a no-brainer to many, has me completely perplexed. I’ve found myself doing Google searches and reading articles in the past year:

  • How to know if you want children
  • 10 Reasons You Should Not Have Children
  • Quiz: Should you be a parent? 
  • True confessions of people who regret having children

Do you think that any of these articles have brought me any closer to making a decision? NOPE. There’s no list or quiz or article that can help someone who is truly ambivalent on the subject. As I grow older my need to procreate doesn’t grow stronger, but neither does it weaken. I still regularly consider possible baby names or think about how awesome it will be to share my love of reading with future children, but then I realize that they might hate to read or I remember how loud and obnoxious kids are who come into my store at work. As someone who didn’t grow up with siblings, or even have younger kids in the neighborhood, I have pretty much zero experience or opinion about children. My fiancé doesn’t seem to have strong feelings either. So where does that leave us? Hyper-conscious that the decisions we are facing in the next 5-10 years are big ones, that’s for sure.

Gearing up for NYCC

October may seem far away, but not when you have a Con to prepare for. Should I cosplay? Who is going to be there? Which panels will I go to? Where will we be staying this year? There’s a million different things to plan out, especially this year. My fiancé has spent at least two years as press during the NYCC for Bleeding Cool, and this year I will be following suit. There will be plenty of time for wandering, but I must use my time wisely. I already know my number 1 goal, and that is to get an autograph from Patrick Rothfuss. It was just announced that he will be there for autographing! *SQUEE!!!* Let the planning begin!

An Old Friend

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“I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me.”

-Kvothe

 

Reading slumps: I hate them. There’s nothing worse, aside from a writing slump. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about being a reader, it’s that you need to power through them. I don’t mean by punishing yourself, and forcing yourself to the end of a book you aren’t enjoying. I mean that it is okay to read more than one book at a time, and it is okay to give up and move on.

I’ve been trying to enjoy All the Light We Cannot See for a month or so, and I just can’t do it. I’m close to the end, maybe I will go back some day. It makes no sense, this is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, but I’m sooooo bored! I have decided today to revisit one of my favorite books, The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. I discovered this book in a rare fit of boldness, uncharacteristic of someone who is quite the introvert. Any bibliophile will admit that they creep when they see someone has a book. Rarely do we bother someone who is actively reading, because we get how annoying it is to be interrupted when “in the zone.” But if you can catch them when they aren’t reading, it’s fair game (if you’re brave). In this circumstance I walked up to a seemingly benign individual, walking in the mall, and asked him about it. I purchased the book shortly after (this is when Borders still existed, RIP), and fell in love. Starting this trilogy over again has been like meeting with an old friend. I can only hope that the author writes the final book ASAP, because waiting has been killing me!

 

Writing Through Fear

I think one of the most intimidating things about fiction writing, or writing in general, is that voice in the back of your head questioning you, berating you. Telling you that you don’t know anything. That you’re uninteresting. That your weak grasp on grammar or language makes you sound like a child, an imposter. The voice is always there making you second guess. Making you rip the pages out of your notebook, or move the file to the trash, just in case eyes land on your words and someone sees you. In case they judge you from within. These eyes may not even be a possibility, they’re hypothetical eyes. Your eyes three weeks from now, opening the file or page, and revisiting the words. You embarrassing yourself because of fear. Fear of ridicule, fear of failure. Fear that your work is meaningless.

Work through the fear. Write everything. Write the truth and the lies. Write the beautiful and the bullshit. Write it all, and if you have to don’t look at it again for a year. But do not delete it. Don’t rip it out and tear it into tiny bits. Allow yourself to forget about it. Allow yourself to turn to the next page. Don’t look back. I promise you some day, maybe a year from now, maybe six, you will rediscover your work. You’ll look over your words and it will be like seeing an old friend for the first time in a decade. You’ll find things that make you blush, things that make you cringe, but you’ll find things that surprise you too. You’ll find the value and the meaning and the intelligence that you continually doubt you have.

Appreciating Us

The first bit of advice that anyone will give you in order to have a successful relationship, is to communicate. You don’t always realize how true that is, until there’s conflict. I have to say, my fiancé and I did a pretty damn good job yesterday at talking. It may seem like a basic thing to many people, but it isn’t for everyone. Learning to talk to to each other can be an unsurmountable challenge for some couples. I have personally had relationships crumble because we couldn’t talk to each other in a healthy manner. We had both been in different head-spaces regarding our wedding plans, and come to find out we are pretty much on the same page! I just wanted to celebrate this tiny win. It takes a bad experience to help you appreciate a good one, and I do have a good one.

Breaking the Ice

How does any great blog start? With an explanation of why I made one, and a promise that I will write every day? I have thoughts that I need to get out sometimes. That is the basic reason that this blog was created. Thoughts need to take shape on occasion, even if no one is really listening. As for the promise, I can’t vow to write every day, or even every week. This blog was created in 2011, it’s now 2017 and this is my first post. What does that tell you? I wouldn’t say I’m bad at commitment, but… well just don’t tell my fiancé.

I also can’t tell you what theme this blog will take on. A themed blog feels a little like a cage to me, because I have more than one interest. I can, however, give you a list of things you more than likely will read about on my page at one point or another:

  • Books (God do I love books)
  • Video games
  • Relationship stuff
  • Retail/ customer complaints (because there’s nothing good about working in retail)
  • Things related to being a woman
  • Cats (mother of 3 here)
  • Miscellaneous musings