Monday, February 2, 2015

Books: Secret History, By Donna Tartt

(Drivebycuriosity) - Edmund, called Bunny, is an extremely obnoxious guy. No wonder that his "friends" had to get rid of him.  The novel "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt focuses on Bunny, his assassination and the aftermath (amazon). The murder is already revealed on the first page of the novel. The plot, written in first person, is set in the North East US (Hampden College, Vermont) somewhat in the late 20th century. The story circles around a group of quirky college students who specialize in the language, literature and the culture of the Old Greek. 

I read the novel because I love Tartt`s masterpiece "The Goldfinch" but this book disappointed me. The author tortures her readers over too many pages (to tell a number would be a spoiler) by describing what a pest this Bunny was. I really don´t get why anybody let this "Bunny" closer than 10 feet, let alone calling him friend. After the murder the plot gets stronger and stronger and evolves into a deeply psychological drama in the style of Patricia Highsmith. 

Reading "Secret History" leaves mixed feelings. Some of the described odd characters are interesting and on some pages the author created an compelling atmosphere. The relationships between the characters, especially sexually, were really complicated, which made them interesting but they were also hardly believable. And Tartt needed to much time (or pages) to find her rhythm and she spend too much room for references to the ancient Greek culture. Maybe a good editor would have helped.

"Secret History" - published 1992 - was Donna Tartt´s (born 1964) debut novel. In 2002 she published "The Little Friend", her second book. In 2013 followed the wonderful "Goldfinch". If the author continues this rhythm of delivering every 10 years or so something better, than book lovers can look forward to a masterpiece in the year 2023 or so. Can`t wait.

PS: For illustration I used Jeff Koon`s "Antiquity" because this painting represents the topics about these friends talked all the time.

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