Tag Archives: Donna Tartt

Lit Links: Remembering ‘El Gabo’, 2014 Pulitzer Prize Winners, When Memoirs Go Bad

Celebrating the Conjurer of Literary Magic
The New York Times ran a wonderful obit of Gabriel García Márquez, who passed away on Thursday, reminding us all how Márquez changed the literary landscape. Time to re-read One Hundred Years of Solitude.

The Cost of Spilling Family Secrets Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-part, brutally honest autobiographical novel, My Struggle, has turned him into an international literary sensation – and made him an outcast to his friends and family. The New Republic looks at the personal cost of writing the truth.

Catching up on the 2014 Pultizer Prize Winners
Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch won the 2014 Pulitzer for fiction (well deserved in our opinion).  Longreads compiled pieces from the winners of the other categories – perfect for your weekend reading.

Saint-Exupéry, Saintly Hands, Sainted Innocence
Guernica looks at what inspired the man behindThe Little Prince.

The Disillusionist
Imagine a family like the Downton Abbey clan gone bad. ” Edward St. Aubyn is from a failed aristocratic family, headed by a sexually abusive and tyrannical father. From a bleak childhood, he grew up to be “a raging heroin addict and also a brilliant, corrosive master of Wildean one-liners.” The Atlantic looks at his new novel, Lost for Words, which chronicles his strange and curious life.

Radka Denemarková on translating Herta Müller
Czech novelist, playwright and translator Radka Denemarková on the joys and trials of translating the work of Nobel Prize winner  Herta Müller.


SnarkNotes: Truer Detective

We’re pretty obsessed with True Detective here at Culture Binge. Now that the show has reached its weighty conclusion, our lives seem empty and meaningless. But as we all know, time is a flat circle and it will come around again. Until then we’re filling the void with some of our favorite novels that do what TD did so well. These books are part  detective thriller,  part eerie American gothic, part philosophical meanderings, and all completely riveting.  (If you need a bit more to ease your withdrawal, we highly recommend these short stories by series creator Nic Pizzolatto: “Ghost-Birds” and “Between Here and the Yellow Sea.”)

dirt-low-res_cover1Dirt by David Vann
Twenty-two-year-old Galen lives in seclusion with his emotionally dependent mother, supported by a family inheritance. A devoted New Age believer, he dedicates his life to magical transformation — “to free himself from the corporeal, to be as weightless as air, to walk on water.” When his young, attractive cousin enters his life, Galen is overcome with manic desire and realizes that he can achieve transcendence but it will be a treacherous path.
You Should Read It If… you like stories about the dark (and we mean really dark) aspects of human nature and the fuzzy line between belief and insanity.
Culture Binge Mashup: Top of the Lake meets Cormac McCarthy meets Bon Iver

760061539_1369092408The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
In Los Angeles, icy cool private eye Philip Marlowe befriends hapless war vet Terry Lennox. When Lennox’s wealthy nymphomaniac wife is violently murdered and Lennox flees across the border, Marlowe is thrown into the middle of a larger conspiracy. He has to navigate Mexican gangsters, corrupt tycoons, fast-talking dames, hard-boiled cops and an alcoholic novelist to solve a crime where the clues just don’t add up.
You Should Read It If… you like razor-sharp dialogue,  plot twists upon plot twists, and gin gimlets.
Culture Binge Mashup: Humphrey Bogart cool meets LA Confidential meets Veronica Mars

21a7c060ada086e103050210.LThe Little Friend by Donna Tartt
In Alexandria, Mississippi, a young boy, Robin Cleve Dufresnes, is brutally murdered and found hanging from a tree. Twelve years on, his murder goes unsolved and his family is haunted by grief. His plucky younger sister Harriet and her friend Hely take on the case and uncover murky secrets of the town and the family’s past.
You Should Read It If… you like page-turning whodunits, idealistic heroines, and chilling, thrilling conclusions.
Culture Binge Mashup: To Kill a Mockingbird meets Beasts of the Southern Wild meets Harriet the Spy

SnarkNotes: The Latest and Greatest

There are a lot of excellent books out there. But reading takes time and no matter how much you may want to read, things can get in the way — like day-long Netflix binges, crafting Spotify playlists that make you look effortlessly cool, Instagramming your cat attacking the wind, etc. Fear not! Culture Binge presents a weekly feature, SnarkNotes, to cut through the cluttered world of books and guide you toward what you should be reading.

We’re kicking off the series by bringing you up to speed on The Latest and Greatest recent novels. At the end of each year, there’s always a pileup of “Best of” lists, literary prizes and holiday releases. Now that the dust has settled and we are firmly in 2014, we’ve taken stock of all of the recommendations, rants and raves and distilled them to our top picks.

the_luminaries_a_pThe Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
This whopper of a book (over 800 pages) garnered 28-year-old New Zealand novelist Eleanor Catton the 2013 Man Booker prize. Set in New Zealand in the height of the gold rush of the 1860s, The Luminaries has an extraordinary cast of characters: lucky prospectors and unlucky indentured Chinese laborers, crafty criminals and vengeful opium dealers, an honest newspaperman and a pessimistic Maori, an opportunistic madam and a romantic whore. Their lives intersect with the murder of a hermit and the disappearance of a wealthy prospector—but these relationships are more fated than they first appear.  The book was just optioned for a BBC miniseries so read it now to be ahead of the culture curve.
You Should Read It If… you like deliciously rich Dickensian novels with fully-formed, complex characters and touches of the supernatural.
Culture Binge Mashup Deadwood meets Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh meets The Lumineers.

the_flamethrowersThe Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner
In Rachel Kushner’s novel (a finalist for the National Book Award),  a young, unnamed female narrator leaves her native Nevada to make it in the New York art world of the 1970s. She falls in with a successful Italian artist—heir to a motorcycle empire—and his eccentric circle of philandering artists, drunk patrons, naive scenesters and broken dolls. She races motorcycles, travels to Italy,  and gets pulled into the revolutionary spirit of the decade. A novel about speed, youth and messy love, The Flamethrowers is a fantastic portrayal of a young woman navigating an insane world and realizing that people can be pretty shitty.
You Should Read It If… you love strong female narrators, motorcycle racing and wish you had experienced NYC before Giuliani.
Culture Binge Mashup Warhol’s Factory meets Antonioni’s Blow-Up meets Chrissie Hynde.

thegoldfinchThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
A literary darling, Donna Tartt (A Secret History, The Little Friend)  publishes a book about once every 10 years. Each one is worth the wait. In her latest, The Goldfinch, teenager Theo Decker is examining a Dutch masterwork, “The Goldfinch,”  at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with his mother when a bomb explodes and his life is shattered. He shuttles from a friend’s home on the Upper East Side to his estranged father’s rough scene in Las Vegas and back to New York, all the while carrying a deep secret and haunting guilt. He befriends an energetic and damaged Ukrainian, Boris, who shepherds him into a strange underground of international art theft and Russian gangsters.
You Should Read It If… you like larger-than-life characters, beautifully constructed prose and epic relationships.
Culture Binge Mashup Great Expectations meets Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann meets In Bruges.