The (not-so-secret) Secret History

You know a book is a good one when you stay up until 2 in the morning reading 200 pages of it in one sitting. I can’t believe I waited so long to read Donna Tartt’s much acclaimed The Secret History. It’s one of those books that makes you put off getting up from the reading chair even to get a glass of water because you just have to know what happens next.

I loved Tartt’s reflections on the nature of beauty in this dark and corrupt tale of Classics students who become murderers at an elite college in Vermont. “There is nothing wrong with the love of beauty,” Tartt writes. “But Beauty-unless she is wed to something more meaningful-is always superficial.”

And earlier in the book: “Beauty is terror. We want to be devoured by it, to hide ourselves in that fire which refines us.”

In other news, a book review I wrote of Alan’s War by Emmanuel Guibert has just been published in The Brooklyn Rail.

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