Book Notes: Donna Tartt’s The Secret History
I’m having a very weird reading year, folks. Everything I read, in every genre and every language, turns out to be crap. Aside from Tayeb Salih’s wonderful novel, everything else has been quite bizarre.
I never read Donna Tartt before, and sheesh, what a weird, weird novel. It’s like fantasy but without any magic. Completely implausible characters in utterly implausible situations doing and saying ridiculously implausible things. It isn’t hard to keep up the suspense when everybody is so completely implausible.
Another problem with the novel is that characters are always drunk. Every page of the 560-page novel reminds the readers that everybody is drunk. I haven’t encountered so many drunk characters since I stopped watching Russian police procedurals. I felt by the end of it that I would never be able to look at an alcoholic beverage without intense boredom after reading this novel.
There are positive sides to the novel, though. For one, it’s long. I bought another novel by Tartt, and it’s a cool 1,000 pages. This beautiful length is enough to excuse many things in my eyes. Also, The Secret History is very escapist and requires zero intellectual investment from the readers. It’s the perfect beach read. I’m not on the beach but I’m planning a beach vacation, so a beach novel makes sense.