Thursday, May 1, 2014

for your consideration: "the secret history."

less thesis-writing, more reading, i say! i recently finished the secret history, by donna tartt. donna tartt has become something of a crush of mine. she's brilliant & mysterious & looks like a beautiful fierce vampire from the southern united states (which is a good thing). she also wrote the goldfinch, which i read earlier this year and won the pulitzer prize. i'm pretty sure if i ever met her my reaction would be similar to leslie knope's when she met joe biden (this was a good article about her. donna tartt, i mean. not leslie knope. although all articles about leslie knope are great). 

but! the secret history. it's got weird hints of incest, exploration into crazy sensual bacchanal rituals, alcoholism, characters that you feel like you really come to know, & so much more. it's a book that plunges the reader right into a group of friends who are close-knit, intellectual, eerie, & murderous. & yet i found myself totally, & happily, pulled into their crazy world. i was intrigued by these characters & even, i have to say, rooting for them. tartt has this way of making the reader feel so, so privileged & excited to be given a peek into their world, full of all these dark secrets.

the book is kind of a reverse mystery - the crime is revealed in the opening pages, & then the rest of the book explains not so much how the murder is done, or who has done it, but why. why does this small group of classics students at a tiny college in vermont kill one of their own? so good.

another reason i loved the secret history is because it's a book about books, a "campus novel" - the students discuss works of ancient greek and roman literature, make smarmy remarks in multiple languages, & engage in all those elements of college life. the students live lives that would actually seem really normal they were lived by, like, a roommate or sibling of yours or some other person, but when viewed through the unique (dare i say "lush"?) lens of donna tartt, & with those descriptions she gives, & the way she can make the relatively ordinary become completely new & unique...the become magical. 

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