Saturday, March 7, 2020

The Little Friend by Donna Tartt

Given that I consider myself a super fan of Donna Tartt, I admit that reading The Little Friend surprised me because it was extremely difficult to get through. And once I got through it, I didn't experience the deep fulfillment that I felt from reading her other books, The Goldfinch and The Secret History.

Last night, as members of my book club, Literary Eves, gathered to discuss this book, the fulfillment came. We discussed the phenomenon of how we humans construct narratives that we choose to believe, even if the constructions are the opposite of truth. This truth had been beautifully presented in the prologue of the book, which in hindsight, was the foundation that Tartt set up, in order to have readers experience this phenomenon of chasing down rabbit holes to try and solve a murder mystery ... allowing us to get tangled and mired in strands of ambiguous speculation and suspicion. Finding purpose in the weirdest of strands, and losing meaning that exists outside of them.

The protagonist, Harriet, who led the hunt for finding the truth about her brother's death also raised many questions about the implicit biases (based on class, and race) that we all hold, which influence who we become suspicious of and who we allow to fly under our radars of suspicion.

Ultimately for me, this book is about how each of us live with death. The death of a loved one, the death of a perceived wretched one. The death that also belongs to us, in the context of life. Do we try to kill it? Do we get gripped by it? Do we ignore it? Do we pretend that it doesn't happen? I think how I live with death mirrors how I live with life. Because death isn't the opposite of life. It is a facet of it.

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