Amy, The Swiss Lovie and I met up for dinner a couple of weeks back. Bar Centrale. I arrived first and headed inside after being denied a patio spot by a bunch of early diners wearing driving mules (I counted 6 pairs of Tod’s out there, no joke). Sick of suffering cottage envy on Instragram, I reached for my book. It’d been toted around for weeks. Virtually untouched. Dog-eared on page 12. I was in a slump.
Once the girls arrived and we were happily tucked into some burrata and rose, we spotted not one, but two BBCE members walking up Yonge. The window seat is steamy, but it’s great people watching. White people specifically. Not a lot of diversity at Yonge and Price, as it happens. A statistician would find a correlation between this and the proliferation of mules, I bet.
We started talking books. Specifically summer reading. It turns out we were all in a slump.
I have a theory as to why. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I think it may have been the last book we’d all read. 800 pages of Pulitzer Prize winning genius.
Selected for BBCE sometime in the winter, I had only just started it when we met that month. Normally not an issue, since normally, anyone ahem, “behind on their reading”, can easily participate in the salami, cheese and catching up. Not this time. The ladies were buzzing. They had not had such a heated discussion since On Chesil Beach. When I tried to steer them off topic, I got exiled to the kitchen.
Intrigued, I stepped up my game and barely did anything else for over a week. I talked about it to anyone who would listen. I passed it along and then nagged friends on their progress, hungry to hear their thoughts. Quite a few said it’s the best book they’ve ever read. Others hated it. My mom said she found it depressing and almost gave up. I think a lonely boy lost in Las Vegas armed only with a Russian best friend and a dead-beat dad was too hard for her to hear about. But the interesting thing was that everyone had something different to say.
I read some reviews in retrospect. The Globe’s was most surprising to me: “ambitious, over-the-top tale of a boy, a painting and our love of the inanimate”. They mean the painting, of course. I never saw it that way. For me, it was about being left alone. Holding out for meaning. Trying to fit in. Being flawed and vulnerable to exploitation. Loving someone who doesn’t love you back. The Pippa scenes nearly broke my heart.
Anyway. There’s a lot there. And while I’m still thinking about it, it’s hard to imagine going back in.