My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Well, I’m glad that’s over. At least 500 pages of this book were extremely depressing, and it went on and on, page after depressing page. The book was often sloppy and improbable. I would give a pass to a self-published author with the kind of mistakes found in Goldfinch; but this author had the help of a staff of editors, and there’s simply no excuse for it. For example, the one use of Spanish in the entire novel was wrong. Obviously, the editors depended on Google translator instead of asking a Spanish-speaking person how to say french fries. The ubiquity of cell phones amongst middle-school kids 14 years ago struck me as wrong. A 14-year-old referring knowingly to a fertility drug. The comment that Boris was most comfortable speaking in English followed by him speaking in broken English for the rest of the novel, and Theo teaching him U.S. idiomatic expressions, made no sense. The way the characters talked, on and on, philosophically, in the end when they weren’t even on cocaine (frankly), was weird. Even the end went on for ten pages too long, and the reader is supposed to take seriously the pages of a character’s grand philosophical reflections on life when he’s just off of a serious, long-term bender with no treatment or period of sobriety whatsoever? I found myself wondering why anyone would enable this screwed-up kid by listening to him talk for so long. Send him to rehab first, for God’s sake. Having said all that, the Boris was a fabulous and memorable character (although his final scene struck me as improbable); some of the other characters were great; the writing was very good; and I stuck with the story because the author did make me want to know how it would turn out. (And, for all that, I will give the novel four stars.) However, at some point I did wonder whether the Pulitzer Prize is fixed like World Cup soccer. I find it hard to believe that this was rated the best book of the year.