Fifteen members were at Book Club this month to discuss Goldfinch. As we went around the table with our answer to did we like the book, many said they hadn't finished it, some hadn't even started; the thoughts on this Pulitzer Prize Fiction 2014 winner were diverse not only for the dark subject matter but because of the length of the book. At the end, with some of those comments, many said, "I'm glad I read it."
One member said she had a "love/hate relationship with the book. She loved the author and her descriptions, life long friends, but hated the content, it was so dark, so heavy." She did, though, love the goldfinch print and ordered a copy of it online. Another person said "it was the longest, darkest, heaviest book she's read and didn't like drugs and language, not something we've experienced." This is one person that said, "glad I read it." "Cheer up things can't get any worse and it did" one person said, "liked the author didn't like the book." Someone said "I had the hardest time reading a book this long, other than Gone with the Wind. Like it or not? I didn't like it; I can appreciate it." Our leader for this book said she chose it because it received a Pulitzer Prize, but she said "I just wonder why it got it! A lot needs to be chopped out."
"I liked it" a member said there were quirky characters. She had read it a year ago but couldn't read the whole book again, she couldn't finish it the second time. "In the end, I did like it -- I found the plot interesting, the characters interesting, but wish they had cut out the big chunk. I didn't need 20-50 more instances to know it was a problem." One member said she "really liked the book, the length was a little 'off putting' but felt by the end of the book I knew who the people were. I couldn't put it down." Reading the book on a long trip, one person said she liked the actors that were reading the parts. She said she had started reading but got into it more listening. It was 27 disks, each one over an hour.
Discussion was about parts of the book like the engagement scene -- the cocktail party kept ramping up a level of tension and you knew something is going to happen, someone said. Sometimes in order to convey emotion or tension, that was what was happening. "It hit a nerve, he is feeling I was feeling." Someone said they don't remember mother having emotional time. Her love of the painting came when she was a child. She use to just lay down and look at it for hours. Discussed about the painting being a sham.
Leon Wieseltier said "But if a serious book really catches on, it may be less important that its strictly literary quality is not as great as one might have hoped and more important that it's touched a nerve, that it is driven by some deep human subject and some true human need." I think it did that for many of the readers in our club.