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An impressive debut novel from a new voice in fiction, The Secret History tells of a small circle of friends at an esteemed college in New England, whose studies in Classical Greek lead them to odd rituals, shocking behavior - and murder.
REVIEWS and CRITICISM - for short reviews and longer critical pieces that analyze and comment upon specific works of art, performances, movies, broadcasts, products, and the like. I first read it ten years ago when it was first published, and haven't found a better book yet!
It is a book I pick up quite often though I don't necessarily start at the beginning every time. I wasn't particularly looking forward to reading this (I had to study this with reference to "The Bacchae") and it was amazing.
December 11, 2013 • Fresh Air's book critic says it's just a fluke that 9 of the 11 titles she picked this year were written by female authors.
October 31, 2013 • Donna Tartt is a writer who takes her time a€” she's published just one novel per decade since her debut in 1992.
October 21, 2013 • The author of The Secret History returns with a novel about art, love and loss that's drawn comparisons to Oliver Twist and the Harry Potter series. October 19, 2013 • Donna Tartt's new novel The Goldfinch follows a motherless boy and a priceless painting in the aftermath of a terror attack.
July 9, 2012 • Being a positive role model is usually a part of a teacher's job description, but author Jennifer Miller knows not everyone lives up to that standard.
September 10, 2011 • Whether they depict school as a magical memory or a torture chamber, books about students are as varied as authors. July 13, 2011 • This Friday the credits will roll on the phenomenon that is Harry Potter. July 11, 2006 • There are some books that are so good that you just can't get on with your life until you've turned the last page. JE Your decision to reveal who one of the people is who’s murdered at the very beginning . JE The book must have something to do with being a completely different person, though—if that was your main focus through all those years. DT I was trying to impose structures and conventions of the past upon characters and places in the present, not the other way around.
JE The most wonderful part is when you are finally holding the book in your hands, when it becomes an object.
JE I kind of had the same experience with the prologue of From Rockaway, which I wrote last.
JE One of the things that struck me about your book is how many scenes there are with people waking up, as if they were waking up to the realization of what they’ve done.
DT It was a Gestapo sort of thing, people coming to your room, waking you up in the middle of the night. JE And the nightmarishness of the sculpture fits the novel’s tone of paranoia and terror in the book.

With the launch of our new blog, what better time than now to share these exciting interviews?  We are proud to present you with the first of our new and ongoing series, an exclusive interview with Donna Tartt, bestselling author of The Secret History.
I was studying classical civilization and philosophy at the time I was writing The Secret History, and hence was really wrapped up in the background material before I wrote a word of the novel.
The novel took me ten years to write, in starts and stops. I wrote it longhand, in notebooks, and typed up pages as I went along. I wasn’t really trying to write any type of novel—actually, at the time I was writing the book I was fairly aware that there was no easy way to pigeonhole it. I am a tough reader—on one hand, I don’t enjoy most actual thrillers because I find them thin on character and poorly written, but on the other hand, beautiful writing is not enough to pull me through some of the dull, quotidian, marriage-and-family subject matter of much modern literary fiction.
Writing process—well, I still write in notebooks but computers have changed things, obviously. The obsessive quality I have with my work—well, this is why my books take so long to write, I am basically painting a very, very large wall-sized mural with a brush the size of an eyelash. Donna Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi and attended The University of Mississippi and Bennington College in Vermont.
Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Then he arrived at Hampden College and quickly became seduced by the sweet, dark rhythms of campus life - in particular by an elite group of five students, Greek scholars, wordly, self-assured, and at first glance, highly unapproachable.
Dissatisfied "with the crass values of their fellow students, a small corps of undergraduates groups itself around a favored professor of classics, who nurtures both their sense of moral elevation and an insularity from conventional college life that ultimately proves fatal. You can choose from a multitude of writing games, gizmos, generators, writing prompts and exercises, tips, experiments and manifestos from infamous avant garde writers and how-to articles on fiction writing and poetry.
The narrator of A Secret History is a character named Richard Papen, who transfers to a small college in Vermont and manages to get into an elite and mysterious Classics program, of which there are only five other students. In many ways, everything that goes wrong for the characters in this novel can be traced back to that same desire. Her favorites include a jumbo-sized Dickensian novel, a biography of Ben Franklin's sister, a comedy of manners, a stunning Scandinavian mystery and more. Reviewer Meg Wolitzer says The Goldfinch marks a departure from Tartt's previous work, but it's a rich, absorbing read a€” all 771 pages of it.
As fans prepare to graduate from the series of books and movies, they're left to wonder what the future will hold. Nancy Pearl offers books that make it tempting to call in sick just to be able to read to the end without stopping. And once you open that door—when something completely out of the ordinary happens—why not have a ghost too? The best way to tell it was very simply from beginning to end, because I did have a lot of flashbacks and very screwed up time sequences. I’m a completely different person now than I was when I started the book, but you know how that goes, I mean, things happen to you .

It’s as if you superimposed characters from the past upon the present, or black and white upon color. You know, you work towards something for a number of years and you think you’re going to know what to expect. They told me if there were things I wanted to change from the first edition to the second edition, if it goes into a second edition, that I could.
Eight years work, and this really was the end, and I’d thought about these characters for so long, and things that I had never seen before started clicking into place. The sculpture some student built on the lawn, for instance, you had your narrator mistake for gallows. We all took the same place and put it through the Mixmaster, put it in the oven, and came out with completely different things. He wrote the whole Human Comedy, millions of volumes, and just sucked up three hours a night for years and years, until he was fat and just drank coffee all the time. The Secret History takes you into a dark world, and in doing so forces you to go inside and examine your own mind.  The trouble is, once you go inside your head, it will take quite some time to get yourself free again. These other students are Henry Winter, (who is the leader of the group), Francis Abernathy, Camilla and Charles Macaulay (who are fraternal twins), and Edmund “Bunny” Corcoran, the unfortunate fellow who is murdered by the rest of the group in the prophetic prologue to the novel.  Richard is gradually works his way into their mysterious world, but in doing so becomes privy to information that proves to transform his life forever. Every aspect of their lives was devoted to attempting to recreate the Classical age in the present day. Tartt tells NPR's Scott Simon that she started thinking about art, money and fate after stumbling across an art exhibition in a Las Vegas casino. NPR intern Annie Ropeik prepared her postgrad reading list with three books for the mature Harry Potter fan. The interviewer liked all these weird writers that I like who nobody has ever heard of or probably ever reads. When I was finishing work on my book, for weeks and weeks and weeks I would work for six hours, sleep for two; work for six hours, sleep for two.
I was very bad about making Xeroxes—for huge portions of the book, I would only have the one copy. She lives with her two pugs and a Boston Terrier and divides her time between Manhattan and Virginia. You simply have to listen to that scarcely audible old call, the one that will always lead you off the safely marked path.

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