Monday, November 4, 2013

VIDEO: Donna Tartt says, "All educated Southerners have three different voices..."

Ugh.  I find myself again on the roll of bad bloggers. 

In my defense, I've been out doing--rather than in writing about it.  San Francisco has had back-to-back festivals: Litquake for literature and the Bay Area Science Festival for, uh, science.  There was some overlap.  And as literature and science are two of my favorite things, I've been running around a lot!

These two interests overlapped up in Marin County about a week ago--though not technically a part of either festival.  Now, I don't like to schlep out to the suburbs too often.  There has to be good reason, if you get my drift.  Donna Tartt, who publishes a novel about once every decade--and who consequently tours about once a decade--was a darn good reason for a road trip.  Book Passage was hosting an unusual daytime event, but I guess you take Donna Tartt when you can get her, right?  Despite the weekday timing, the bookstore was packed.  (Oh, and while Donna Tartt was plenty inducement on her own, I couldn't believe my luck when I saw that geneticist/legend J. Craig Venter was speaking at the store that night!  Look for that footage tomorrow.)

So, Donna's latest novel, The Goldfinch, has been generating buzz for months.  I didn't grab an advance copy of this one.  Actually, I purchased (Yes, I still purchase books.) a copy of the audiobook read by the wonderful stage actor David Pittu on the day of it's publication.  In paper, it's a hefty 750 pages or so, and recorded it's about 32 hours, 25 minutes, and 11 seconds--give or take.  By the time I heard Donna speak, two days later, I was just a couple of hours from the end and finished it in the gap between the two lit events.  All I can say is that the buzz was justified.  I loved this rich and gripping tale from start to finish.  I think the description "Dickensian" comes up with Ms. Tartt from time to time.  I can understand that.  It's been close to 30 years since I read Great Expectations, but for some reason I found myself thinking of Pip as I read the harrowing journey of her young protagonist.  I wholeheartedly recommend the novel, and I further recommend the audiobook, if you are so inclined.  David Pittu is simply astounding.  He brings her words and characters vividly to life.

I so enjoyed this rare opportunity to hear Ms. Tartt speak, and hope that you do as well.  And I'd like to thank Book Passage for bringing her to the Bay Area.  One great way to thank them is to eschew that lousy audiobook and order a signed first edition from Book Passage.  I know they'd be delighted to ship one right out!


  1. Thanks a lot about the video. Wish I could've been there but thousands of kilometers and an ocean was standing on our way. Very interesting! First time I read your blog, and eventhough I'm not much into blogs I think I'll keep reading yours.

  2. Hey, Anon, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave such a nice comment. Please do come back. I've got a huge backlog of awesome lit events to share, and I'll eventually start posting reviews again. :-)