When I am asked about a book, I want to answer with all the feelings and thoughts and important pieces.
How do you take more than 700 pages, and turn it into a two sentence overview?
I used this as a defense when Thomas finally turned away from me, hands over ears, saying, "I don't want to hear anymore. I just wanted to know the basic plot. Never mind."
He countered by pointing at the television, where The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was playing, and said, "The Desolation of Smaug is a story about 12 dwarves and a hobbit who travel to the Lonely Mountain with the goal of killing the dragon Smaug and taking back the dwarven kingdom."
Well played, Thomas. Although I would argue that there is so much more to the story than that, and it suffers from an abbreviated description.
I guess I'm just wordier than Thomas, but I'm going to make an effort at this quick explanation thing:
The Goldfinch is about teenager Theo Decker, who survives a bombing, and in the aftermath becomes a (mostly) accidental, one-time art thief.
That didn't really make you want to read the book, did it? Or maybe it did.
I feel like the entire soul of the story was left out in that description. When I read a book, I seize on small moments that were important to me. I have to include them in any description I try to give, because they are integral to what the story meant to me. And then I usually feel the need to provide back story for those moments to the person I'm talking to can see why they were so important.
This is the reason I have a hard time condensing an entire book into a short description, or recommending books off the cuff to people who are "looking for something new to read" when I don't know why they enjoy the books they enjoy. Because books are highly personal to me. I know the same thing that makes me love a book, will quite possibly be the thing that makes you want to throw it out of your bedroom window.
This isn't to say I don't write book reviews, or suggest books to people, or have discussions about books. I do all those things. But I just don't do it in one to two sentences very often.
What did I enjoy about The Goldfinch? The writing. The descriptions (I know I have railed against overly-descriptive books and authors in the past, but I did not feel that annoyance with The Goldfinch). The furniture repairs. But mostly the writing - it is beautiful.
I've read a lot of criticisms aimed at Goldfinch author, Donna Tartt, for the length of the book, and suggestions that a heavier hand should have been applied by the editor. I wasn't put off by the length at all. There could have been some cuts, sure, but nothing huge. I guess, like Tartt, I feel sometimes you need a lot of words to reveal the true heart of a story, and I'm willing to read all of them. My biggest complaint would be the weakness of the last ten pages. I would have liked more information about Theo's next steps, but this is not the first book that ended before I was ready to step away from the characters or without the level of resolution I would like. Overall, I really enjoyed The Goldfinch.
Have you read The Goldfinch?
Do you share my inability to describe entire books in one sentence?
If not, please describe your favorite book for me using only 1-2 sentences.