Donna Tartt reads.
I was reading Donna Tartt’s THE GOLDFINCH last month. I am a slow reader. It took me the entire month of January to finish it. When I did—finish it—there was one passage that stopped me in my tracks. I read it over and over. Then, two days after I finished it, Philip Seymour Hoffman died, and I immediately thought of this specific passage. I don’t know about his struggles with addiction no more than the NY Post or CNN. But I know I enjoyed his work. Nevertheless, I still thought of this passage days later. Perhaps, it applies to him, or addiction in general, or…it doesn’t. I just like it.
"Only here’s what I really, really want someone to explain to me. What if one happens to be possessed of a heart that can’t be trusted—? What if the heart, for its own unfathomable reasons, leads one willfully and in a cloud of unspeakable radiance away from health, domesticity, civic responsibility and strong social connections and all the blandly-held common virtues and instead straight toward a beautiful flare of ruin, self-immolation, disaster?…If your deepest self is singing and coaxing you straight toward the bonfire, is it better to turn away? Stop your ears with wax? Ignore all the perverse glory your heart is screaming at you? Set yourself on the course that will lead you dutifully towards the norm, reasonable hours and regular medical check-ups, stable relationships and steady career advancement the New York Times and brunch on Sunday, all with the promise of being somehow a better person? Or…is it better to throw yourself head first and laughing into the holy rage calling your name?”
The road bends and curves, opening up a bit and then closing very suddenly, returning us to the same claustrophobic compactness that makes me feel like we’re stuck in an endless maze, going round and round, slamming into dead ends. The trees, off to the right, once just a part of the background, barely noticeable, begin leaning to one side, as if they’re in the middle of swaying from side to side, and soon enough, there’s so many of them, colliding into one another, assuredly closing us in, blotting out the rest of the world, that there’s nothing to see, one way or the other. Just darkness.
“There comes a time when you realize that everything is a dream, and only those things preserved in writing have any possibility of being real.” —James Salter, All That Is
Might be my next read (after I finish THE GOLDFINCH)