Donna Tartt: The Little Friend

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One of the books Brett Anderson asked me to try getting hold of for him but I can't be arsed because he just assumes that as a rock star, people are going to want to sort this kind of shit for him repeatedly and bask in lackey-glory.

Ha ha Brett, I've got my (embargoed) copy now and yo-ou can't have one, ner-ner.

And to y'all, IT's FANTASTIC. C21 To Kill A Mockingbird and all that. It'll blow your minds.

suzy (suzy), Friday, 18 October 2002 11:37 (seventeen years ago) link

She's overrated. I cant comment on The Little Friend but Secret History was mediocre.

nathalie (nathalie), Friday, 18 October 2002 11:41 (seventeen years ago) link

that's funny, Brett Anderson is overrated too.

g-kit (g-kit), Friday, 18 October 2002 11:42 (seventeen years ago) link

Pah, its been out in the Netherlands for weeks (all-be-it in Dutch, no I haven't read it).

stevo (stevo), Friday, 18 October 2002 11:49 (seventeen years ago) link

The Secret History was fantastic for the first half. I am intrigued by this one. Thank you Suzy.

Mark C (Mark C), Friday, 18 October 2002 12:03 (seventeen years ago) link

Looking forward to this. Read an extract in one of the Sundays and thought it looked good. Secret History is one of my favourite teenage books (although I know everyone disses it, but look at it as inherently adolescent and you'll see it's perfect.)

Sam (chirombo), Friday, 18 October 2002 13:07 (seventeen years ago) link

Er, could someone elaborate on the controversy, then? What, did she say in it that cocaine for schoolkids is healthy for a growing body?

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 18 October 2002 14:15 (seventeen years ago) link

I'm with Nathalie re Secret History, so will need a lot of convincing.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Friday, 18 October 2002 18:53 (seventeen years ago) link

No controversy, just made interesting reading when not weighing in on *that* thread. She's from an old Mississippi family and writes about 20-years-gone in a very de facto masnner. I think if you confine what you think she's capable of to your reading of The Secret History (which has the ring of truth to it, from my POV of being at a similar type of college) you are going to be really impressed.

suzy (suzy), Friday, 18 October 2002 19:18 (seventeen years ago) link

This is an uberclassic suzy thread.

N. (nickdastoor), Saturday, 19 October 2002 13:57 (seventeen years ago) link

Even though I'm working with actual events here, I do get a kick out of seeing who gets worked up about me taking the piss out of myself.

BOOK GOOD, ug. READ BOOK. Also read the totally weird interview with DT in today's .

suzy (suzy), Saturday, 19 October 2002 20:13 (seventeen years ago) link

...Guardian. Am still an HTML dork.

suzy (suzy), Saturday, 19 October 2002 20:14 (seventeen years ago) link

Donna Tartt - Guardian interview

stevo (stevo), Saturday, 19 October 2002 20:24 (seventeen years ago) link

three years pass...
so few answers?! I've just finished this - wanted to read it sooner as The Secret History was kind of an amazing formative book for teenage lex, but 600-page tome nature put me off til now - and it was incredible. the sense of location (geographic and social) is...overwhelming, it's a cliche which often isn't true but Tartt makes you feel like you are RIGHT THERE. it's a lot funnier than I expected, especially at the start, and the last hundred pages or so are heart-pounding - I had to force myself not to speed-read several times.

eugenides' middlesex was a comparison which sprung to mind - both are astonishingly readable epics - but the incredible thing about the little friend is how it creates an epic quality within one child's mind rather than over a period of time.

The Lex (The Lex), Tuesday, 31 January 2006 11:17 (fourteen years ago) link

There's a thread about this TERRIBLE BOOK on ILB, you crazy mang

antexit (antexit), Tuesday, 31 January 2006 16:22 (fourteen years ago) link

could not finish it

s1ocki (slutsky), Tuesday, 31 January 2006 16:29 (fourteen years ago) link

very, very frustrating. she's a great writer, especially when it comes to peoples' inner lives, and there are a lot of interesting story threads within the book but overall it's a mess. editing seems to have been nonexistant, and while i can understand her reach the book should have been much leaner.

lauren (laurenp), Wednesday, 1 February 2006 13:04 (fourteen years ago) link

In Oxford I found out that she is still a devout Catholic, and somehow that really didn't impress me.

the bellefox, Wednesday, 1 February 2006 20:01 (fourteen years ago) link

Still unread on the shelf.

adamrl (nordicskilla), Wednesday, 1 February 2006 20:06 (fourteen years ago) link

the title is pretty funny though! the print ad should have been a picture of her holding up the book, and (in large text) "Say hello to my 'Little Friend'!"

s1ocki (slutsky), Wednesday, 1 February 2006 20:39 (fourteen years ago) link

I agree with Lauren. Occaisonally brilliant, mostly unsatisfactory. I actually read it before The Secret History, and I was very surprised by how taut and propulsive the earlier novel is when I finally got round to reading it.

chap who would dare to no longer work for the man (chap), Wednesday, 1 February 2006 21:03 (fourteen years ago) link

six years pass...

The Secret History, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.
The Little Friend, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.

Hopes for 2012 publication to hit that "one hot novel every ten year average" dashed.

heartless restaurant reviewer (ledge), Thursday, 10 January 2013 11:28 (seven years ago) link

The Secret History was really disappointing after a great first half or so. It just didn't go anywhere interesting.

drunk 'n' white's elements of style (Hurting 2), Thursday, 10 January 2013 16:17 (seven years ago) link

eight months pass...

she has a new book out next month like it's nbd?

@twitizensforlemonlipbalm (schlump), Friday, 13 September 2013 23:06 (six years ago) link

784 pages!

click here to start exploding (ledge), Monday, 16 September 2013 15:57 (six years ago) link

one month passes...
one month passes...

I'm reading The Goldfinch right now, not having read any of her other books, and it's making my think of my friend who's a YA author (La Lechera's husband) talking about how the difference between "young adult" fiction and "adult" fiction being primarily about marketing. Because this book (so far, I'm like a third of the way in) basically reads like a young adult novel to me. I'm not really into it, for other reasons - it needs serious editing, everything is waaaaay too drawn out.

Immediate Follower (NA), Monday, 16 December 2013 16:36 (six years ago) link

This is an uberclassic suzy thread.

conrad, Monday, 16 December 2013 16:51 (six years ago) link

one month passes...

I disliked the Goldfinch at first (due to reasons described above), but came around at the end. After he jumps to being an adult, it gets A LOT more fun to read. The tacked on didactic "art/life" bit at the end is a bit much, but the characters of Theo, Boris, and Hobie are all time classic and I will never forget them.

It was also really hard to hear about PSH's death today an hour after I finished reading it.

we slowly invented brains (La Lechera), Sunday, 2 February 2014 22:13 (six years ago) link

also i can't believe that i read the whole book and NEVER GISed the titular painting. i guess i'll do it now?!

we slowly invented brains (La Lechera), Sunday, 2 February 2014 22:15 (six years ago) link

ok, i did it. kinda glad i waited tbh!

we slowly invented brains (La Lechera), Sunday, 2 February 2014 22:19 (six years ago) link

seven months pass...

About a hundred pages in!

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 4 September 2014 01:35 (five years ago) link

You must be enjoying it.

cross over the mushroom circle (La Lechera), Thursday, 4 September 2014 01:37 (five years ago) link

too early -- a hundred pages and there's debris to clear and lacerated limbs to describe

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 4 September 2014 01:54 (five years ago) link

Name-dropping c-list Britpop dudes to start threads - truly a more innocent (and much less American) time in ILX history.

Kiarostami bag (milo z), Thursday, 4 September 2014 07:05 (five years ago) link

V is reading the Goldfinch at the mo and really enjoying it. I guess I shoudl get round to reading A Secret History.

monoprix & dimanche (dog latin), Thursday, 4 September 2014 10:26 (five years ago) link

page 142. peer-pressured two days ago into purchasing and reading this. i'm liking it more than i figured, having only heard it via the backlash

thoughts to far

1. the physical description of the mother matches the author photo on the book jacket

2. roughly the same premise as this

down to the mother exploding in the art museum big bang beginning, but minus the magic and egyptian mythology

3. how can someone be in amsterdam and stay inside a hotel room?

4. waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much detail

reggie (qualmsley), Thursday, 4 September 2014 11:03 (five years ago) link

yeah I couldn't get into it at all and I got roughly up to where you are now and decided I'd circle back later

the amount of detail was really bugging me

SEEMS TO ME (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 4 September 2014 16:26 (five years ago) link

I love the details! I'm a glutton for detail honestly. The book really pays off after he grows up a little bit.

cross over the mushroom circle (La Lechera), Thursday, 4 September 2014 16:28 (five years ago) link

I usually like it too, but I couldn't settle in to ever really enjoy it. I do want to give it another shot, because I've loved pretty much everything of hers that I've read

the little painting itself sounds so beautiful I feel like I need to give it another chance

SEEMS TO ME (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 4 September 2014 16:39 (five years ago) link

Name-dropping c-list Britpop dudes to start threads

oh come now. Suede is not "C-list," certainly not in the UK. the C list is, like, me. I'm the entire C-list.

Now I Am Become Dracula (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), Thursday, 4 September 2014 16:47 (five years ago) link

don't call yourself that! you're not a c-word!

famous instagram God (waterface), Thursday, 4 September 2014 16:51 (five years ago) link

I knew I was in for a slog when the fate of Theo's mom takes twenty pages of a creative writing exercise in description and Creating Suspense. According to what I've read so far, it contributed nothing to my understanding of Theo.

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 4 September 2014 16:56 (five years ago) link

Y'all are impatient!

cross over the mushroom circle (La Lechera), Thursday, 4 September 2014 17:14 (five years ago) link

hey I loved the Barbour section

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 4 September 2014 17:29 (five years ago) link

except when the Mr. Barbour was like "pip pip old bean come see this nautical flag, now carry on now"

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 4 September 2014 17:30 (five years ago) link

xxxp to aero I found out recently that Madeline, the mechanic at the bike shop I use, is a major fan of a certain band, with two tattoos related to their songs already and thinking of getting a third. She's also miffed that said band's main dude is not coming through Cleveland on his upcoming book tour.

Welcome to my spooooooky carnival! Hope I don't... blow your mind! (Phil D.), Thursday, 4 September 2014 18:09 (five years ago) link

things pick up once mr. silver enters the picture

reggie (qualmsley), Saturday, 6 September 2014 14:11 (five years ago) link

That's where I'm at!

Boris is wonderful.

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 6 September 2014 14:31 (five years ago) link

the speech patterns crack me up. i have to say the lucius reeve affair threw me for a loop

reggie (qualmsley), Saturday, 6 September 2014 18:02 (five years ago) link

i forgot that this had both 'eastern european criminals' and 'rich new england types' in it

oh god

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Saturday, 6 September 2014 19:23 (five years ago) link

i enjoy how messed up the timeline is. try and work out if 9/11 happened in the world this novel presents!!! its difficult!!!

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Saturday, 6 September 2014 19:24 (five years ago) link

"who was it who said that coincidence was just god's way of remaining anonymous?"

really glad i read this despite initial skepticism. three novels it reminded me of -- harry mulisch's 'the discovery of heaven' and (eastern european criminals galore) david benioff's '25th hour' and 'city of thieves'

reggie (qualmsley), Sunday, 7 September 2014 01:54 (five years ago) link

after Theo's Christmas season in the Amsterdam hotel room I'm ready to throw this novel in the fire but there's still 50 pages left

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 9 September 2014 23:25 (five years ago) link

so you didn't like the ghost?

reggie (qualmsley), Wednesday, 10 September 2014 00:58 (five years ago) link

are you guys talking about the goldfinch or little friend?

I haven't read any of these. keep meaning to. I seem to remember loads of slag thrown at the first novel but I think that was just because the author was an attractive woman, frankly.

akm, Wednesday, 10 September 2014 04:22 (five years ago) link

'the goldfinch'. it's the only one i've read and she was new to me. i went into it extremely reluctantly because the first i'd heard of her is the highbrow backlash i linked to in 'vanity fair' above, and i was more or less obligated by someone to read this rather long novel, at a time when i'm otherwise extremely busy. i'm guessing here but i think part of the slagging is she's part of the bennington mafia, having gone to school up there (the most expensive in the country!) with jonathan lethem and brett easton ellis, whom apparently she dated, to boot. rumors of family money don't exactly help reps in this post bush-crash world the way they once did

reggie (qualmsley), Wednesday, 10 September 2014 07:30 (five years ago) link

and i should add that despite my reluctance (and hang ups about bennington types) i appreciate having been obligated to read this, because i ended up really appreciating it

reggie (qualmsley), Wednesday, 10 September 2014 07:37 (five years ago) link

is her purported membership in a Bennington mafia still mentioned in reviews?

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 10 September 2014 11:06 (five years ago) link

not sure. for some reason i haven't read any of the reviews, aside from the 'vanity fair' thing. i went from never having heard of her to being told i HAVE to read her almost immediately, and since finishing the only place i've bothered to look strangely enough (besides 'the onion' . . . which didn't review this?) is the amazon reader review section

reggie (qualmsley), Wednesday, 10 September 2014 11:39 (five years ago) link

two weeks pass...

The Goldfinch is the first of her books I've read, and while I enjoyed it (terrific story, memorable characters, goes by much quicker than most 800-page novels), I'm not sure it's quite as profound as the last few pages are reaching for.

One thing bothered me from early on though ***MINOR SPOILER AHEAD*** - we see Theodore blaming everyone and everything for his mother's death except the terrorists who carried out the bombing in the first place. We see his thought processes and evolving feelings about the disaster from so many angles and in so much depth but the fact that there might be individuals out there who are directly responsible for his mother's death doesn't seem to occur to him, nor does he feel any anger or even mild curiosity about them. The novel basically deals with them over the space of about three lines.

Here's the part where I concede that the actual reality of such a situation is unimaginable to me, and that everyone deals with trauma and grief in different ways, but this didn't ring true with me at all. I kept expecting the issue to be revisited at some point and it just wasn't and for some reason it bothered me that a book that devotes so much detail to everything else would just handwave away such a major element of a pivotal plot and character moment. This is leaving aside the question of why, of all the targets in the New York City, anyone would bomb an art gallery gift shop, other than the fact that the entire plot demands it. Why even make it a terrorist attack in the first place, why not some other kind of random disaster?

Matt DC, Monday, 29 September 2014 17:25 (five years ago) link

An unsatisfying, prolix, and endless novel, and, yeah, OTM about the forced profundity of the last half dozen pages. .

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 29 September 2014 17:27 (five years ago) link

I agree about that too -- I think I said it before but it should've ended as the story wrapped up, not after we were pummeled with the Meaning of Art.

cross over the mushroom circle (La Lechera), Monday, 29 September 2014 18:07 (five years ago) link

six months pass...

The Little Friend is AWFUL. Stop describing everything! Have something happen! I dunno, just bogged down abt 150 pgs in and had to stop. Good prose bt atrociously bad writing.

sonic thedgehod (albvivertine), Friday, 3 April 2015 01:47 (five years ago) link

two years pass...

Blocks and blocks of Haddad trucks on 10th Street for filming of The Goldfinch. Think she may do a pretty good job reading audiobook of True Grit. This is all I have to say for the moment.

The Sound of the City Slang (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 1 February 2018 01:18 (two years ago) link

Directed by, um, John Crowley/wrongdude

The Sound of the City Slang (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 1 February 2018 01:19 (two years ago) link

The last section certainly seemed like it was written for a movie. Kinda surprised no-ones attempted The Secret History, although maybe murderous adolescent classics snobs would have seemed 1000x more insufferable on the screen than they were on the page.

lana del boy (ledge), Thursday, 1 February 2018 09:12 (two years ago) link

eleven months pass...

I’m 140 pages into the secret history. This is pretty ridiculous but gripping.

Trϵϵship, Thursday, 31 January 2019 00:44 (one year ago) link

A better written Bret Easton Ellis novel.

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 31 January 2019 01:04 (one year ago) link

Yes! Very good comparison

Trϵϵship, Thursday, 31 January 2019 01:06 (one year ago) link


david waster phallus (darraghmac), Thursday, 31 January 2019 01:28 (one year ago) link

The Secret History (which has the ring of truth to it, from my POV of being at a similar type of college) you are going to be really impressed.
― suzy (suzy), Friday, October 18, 2002 3:18 PM (sixteen years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

lol. i went to an east coast liberal arts college too and i wish. people were normie as hell.

Trϵϵship, Thursday, 31 January 2019 04:06 (one year ago) link

ILX, where some things will never change

louise ck (milo z), Thursday, 31 January 2019 04:08 (one year ago) link

that's why i love this board

Trϵϵship, Thursday, 31 January 2019 04:12 (one year ago) link

All of these kids better fucking go to jail

Trϵϵship, Saturday, 2 February 2019 20:33 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

I have a very, very loose running list of books I missed and/or mean to catch up with, and there's really no rhyme or reason why one or another pops up to the top of the list. A few weeks ago that book was "The Goldfinch," and oof, what an embarrassment that thing was. I think Alfred's take upthread was pretty otm. It's like a parody of a YA novel, except, I suspect, accidentally so. Though at times it's so self-aware in its echos of Dickens and Salinger and ... all sorts of shit that maybe she's doing it on purpose. But if that were the case, then exhaustingly overwritten and steeped in such a mix of winking whimsy and phony pathos seems like a bad way to get there. Anyway, I skipped "The Little Friend" because the reviews were so negative, but how in the world did *this* dumb doorstop manage to bamboozle so many people? At least the movie apparently flopped and disappeared.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 22 May 2020 14:06 (five days ago) link

i had a student whose favorite book it was—maybe some of them read it when they're young?

j., Friday, 22 May 2020 14:28 (five days ago) link

I dunno, I found the Goldfinch incredibly engrossing on plot and character alone. The little friend I simply couldn't finish; I disliked almost everyone, and had a feeling we were never going to find out who killed the kid.

akm, Friday, 22 May 2020 14:31 (five days ago) link

It's many years since I was a student and it's my favourite novel of all time as well.


the grateful dead can dance (anagram), Friday, 22 May 2020 14:32 (five days ago) link

I loved The Little Friend, and enjoyed Goldfinch but the end where she whacks readers with her art bat was very boring and unnecessary.

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Friday, 22 May 2020 14:41 (five days ago) link

I'm not sure I remember much of the book as being particularly boring, per se, but I did think huge hunks of it felt unnecessary.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 22 May 2020 14:44 (five days ago) link

i don't even remember this ending to Goldfinch that made so many people upset.

anyway, I was saddened to see that the film of this is apparently so fucking terrible because the cast all looked right; but a 2 hour movie seems far too short for this book, it really should be a limited series. They could even use the same cast and just jettison Crowley.

akm, Friday, 22 May 2020 15:12 (five days ago) link

Her books don't bore me, but they are boring.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 22 May 2020 15:17 (five days ago) link

i watched the movie last week (having not read the book, mind), its not terrible, tho has several overt oscar-bait flourishes as one would expect

johnny crunch, Friday, 22 May 2020 15:28 (five days ago) link

As the read the book I kept thinking of how the movie might be, and I hypothesized it would be similar in vibe to a Wes Anderson movie. Is that at all close?

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 22 May 2020 22:24 (five days ago) link


johnny crunch, Saturday, 23 May 2020 01:03 (four days ago) link

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