Image Credit: Red Rocks - IMG_1283, by Nicola, via Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0) license

Image Credit: Red Rocks – IMG_1283, by Nicola, via Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0) license

Las Vegas grows on you. For five years now, the Las Vegas area has been my home. The longer I live here, the more I appreciate the richness, complexity, and diversity of its population and the ever-changing beauty of its geography. It’s interesting to read how Las Vegas, with its ironclad branded image, is portrayed in literature. Las Vegas Review-Journal’s John Przybys, writes, that as a canvas, Las Vegas “can be, at the same time, dark and colorful, deep and superficial, serious and downright goofy.”

The 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt, features a significant Las Vegas story line. (This book is an amazing, absorbing read.) Her imagery and depiction of Las Vegas, like all her writing, lingers and stays with you long after you have read the book. Provided below is a sampling of quotes from reviews that cover or mention Las Vegas and Ms. Tartt’s portrayal of the city.

Kamila Shamsie, The Guardian, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – Review

“The novel isn’t, of course, all action and suspense. Some of its most memorable moments occur in stillness. Take Theo’s first experience of the desert skies of Las Vegas, after a life spent amid the light pollution of New York. Until now, he has only known the constellations as ‘childhood patterns that had twinkled me to sleep from the glow-in‑the-dark planetarium stars on my bedroom ceiling back in New York. Now, transfigured – cold and glorious like deities with their disguises flung off – it was as if they’d flown through the roof and into the sky to assume their true, celestial homes.'”

Stephen King, The New York Times, Flight’s of Fancy: Donna Tartt’s Goldfinch

“If there’s a Fagin in Theo’s life, it’s his father, who spirits him away to Las Vegas — not the gaudy Strip, but a sinister exurban development where most of the houses are empty, the streets fill with blown sand and Domino’s won’t deliver. Theo regards his new room with dismay. ‘It seemed like the kind of room where a call girl or a stewardess would be murdered on television.’”

Nikki Steele, Book Riot, Literary Tourism: Las Vegas, Nevada

…”if you’ve only read about Las Vegas in books, it’s not only the drug-addled craze of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or the–not drug-addled, but similarly crazed–Las Vegas in The Stand.  I’d say instead that one of the truest depictions of Vegas was in Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Tartt found a way to show how the excesses of that city are somehow muted against the wide desert and mountains that surround it.”

Jeff Somers, B&N Reads, Three Things You Missed When You Read The Goldfinch

“Something else people overlook in this book is its careful structure…In fact, the book is ingenious in the way it organizes Theo’s journey by sex. First, the feminine world of New York, dominated by his mother and then Mrs. Barbour, a world of cozy meals, homey apartments, and a wide-ranging social world filled with quasi-siblings and social contacts. Then, the masculine world of Las Vegas that Theo’s father takes him to, a world of drugs and alcohol, gambling and superficial glamour, violence and emptiness, with long stretches of the story just Theo and his new friend Boris (the best character in the book, perhaps the best character of 2013) ambling around an empty desert.”

Todd Peterson, Vegas Seven, The Goldfinch Scored a Pulitzer. But Did It Win at Depicting Vegas?

…”Tartt gets some of it right, and some not-so-right. She hits her stride when measuring the landscape through Theo’s eyes: ‘[T]he improbable skyline dwindled into a wilderness of parking lots and outlet malls, loop after faceless loop of shopping plazas…’ describing Las Vegas’ neighborhoods as ‘what tourists never see.’ Likewise, she does a wonderful job of contrasting Theo’s adjustment from New York’s claustrophobic confines to Nevada’s endless space. For the most part, Theo’s time in Las Vegas is spent acclimating to his new life, and actual depictions of our city are few.”

Boris Kachka, Elle, Why You Should Read Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer prize-Winning Novel The Goldfinch. Now.

“After a stint with a rich schoolmate’s family, he finds himself in Las Vegas in the care of his deadbeat father. (The Goldfinch is lousy with horrible dads.) Also on tap are a drug-dealing stepmother, glue-sniffing petty thief Boris, and an American desertscape of mediocrity that seems to horrify Tartt as much as the bloodbath that led Theo there.”

John Przybys, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Books You Must Read to Understand Vegas

“In the category of serious literature, [author Sally] Denton would recommend ‘The Goldfinch,’ winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in fiction, in which author Donna Tartt ‘has depicted a painfully keen Las Vegas, as seen through the eyes of a rootless teenager.’”