July 20th, 2015

Attempting to read Donna Tartt's _The Goldfinch_

I'm having some problems (yes, it is a book group selection; no way in hell would I have picked this up under my own power). For starters, there are some weird similarities between this book and the Will Smith, Stockard Channing movie, "Six Degrees of Separation". Then there's the apparent timeline of the book. The viewpoint character is recalling the death of his mother and the events around that death 14 years earlier, while in a hotel room in Amsterdam that sounds like at least a moderately nice hotel and is -- I know, you won't believe it either -- so drafty and cold he has to wear a coat inside. Also, his mom and him were headed to a school conference having to do with his recent suspension and he's not sure why he was suspended, but one of the possibilities was that he and a school buddy had been using realtor keys to go into empty houses in the Hamptons and steal things like a DVD of Jet Li's "Unleashed", a 2005 movie. That implies that the more modern part of the book -- in the drafty Dutch hotel (I know, not actually possible to believe) -- is actually set in, at minimum, 2019.

And yet he's parked in bed surrounded by paper newspapers.

Not fucking likely.

The whole thing is so confusingly dreamscape in descriptive character that I'm just waiting for the viewpoint character to wake up in a hospital on a 72 hour hold in around 2010 (have to allow for the iPod and cell phone references).

Aha! "Here .. I've taken off the security code for you." So Andy's cell phone has a security code on the screen. Def later than 2005.

Giving up on _The Goldfinch_, back to Duolingo Dutch

"De vriendschap die ik met de koeien had was heel speciaal."

The friendship that I had with the cows was very special. D'oh.

I figured at 150 odd pages in, if I really didn't believe anything I was reading and didn't much care either, I should probably just give up. There's no way I'm getting through the whole thing before book group anyway, and it's increasingly clear to me that I avoided reading it this month for a host of very, very good reasons.

ETA: Who knew that the pronunciation of Gouda could be so difficult to nail down? On Sunday, one of my best and longest friends said a Dutch woman down the street told her it was pronounced "How-duh". I was like, um, pretty sure you mis-heard that, because that's not an "h" at the beginning. It's more like a throat clearing. I didn't debate the "ow" part, however. But then a sentence pops up in Duolingo with the throat clearing G but a very clear "oo". What?!? As near as I can tell, if it isn't a regional variation, Duolingo somehow managed to get a speaker who said it wrong. Which seems impossible, so I'm betting on regional variation (and yes, I listened to it several times -- since the word "gouden" showed up in the sentence, there was the opportunity to do a direct comparison and ou was pronounced "oo" in the city name and "ow" in the adjective golden). If I come up with an explanation, I'll add it here.

http://nl.forvo.com/word/gouda/

8Dori says "h" with no apparent throat clearing. All four agree on "ow".