Donna Tartt

Author of The Secret History

Donna Tartt

Donna Tartt is an American writer whose first two novels, The Secret History and The Little Friend, were critically acclaimed and translated into thirty languages. Tartt won The Little Friend's WH Smith Literary Award in 2003. Her novel The Goldfinch was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize. Don and Taylor Tartt's daughter, she was born in Greenwood, Mississippi but raised in Grenada, Mississippi, 32 miles away. She wrote her first poem at the age of ... five, and at the age of 13, she first saw publication in a Mississippi literary review. She enrolled at Mississippi University in 1981, pledging to Kappa Kappa Gamma's sorority. Her writing caught Willie Morris' attention as she was a freshman. Following Morris' recommendation, Barry Hannah, then an Ole Miss Writer-in-Residence, admitted Tartt to his short story graduate course where she ranked higher than the graduate students, Hannah said. She moved to Bennington College in 1982, where she was friends with fellow students Bret Easton Ellis, Jill Eisenstadt, and Jonathan Lethem, following the suggestion of Morris and others. She studied classics at Bennington with Claude Fredericks. She splits her time between New York City and Virginia.READ MORE

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But Robin: their dear little Robs. More than ten years later, his death remained an agony; there was no glossing any detail; its horror was not subject to repair or permutation by any of the narrative devices that the Cleves knew. And—since this willful amnesia had kept Robin's death from being translated into that sweet old family vernacular which smoothed even the bitterest mysteries into comfortable, comprehensible form—the memory of that day's events had a chaotic, fragmented quality, bright mirrorshards of nightmare which flared at the smell of wisteria, the creaking of a clothes-line, a certain stormy cast of spring light.

If I had grown up in that house I couldn't have loved it more, couldn't have been more familiar with the creak of the swing, or the pattern of the clematis vines on the trellis, or the velvety swell of land as it faded to gray on the horizon . . . . The very colors of the place had seeped into my blood.

Does such a thing as "the fatal flaw," that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life, exist outside literature?

Could it be because it reminds us that we are alive, of our mortality, of our individual souls- which, after all, we are too afraid to surrender but yet make us feel more miserable than any other thing? But isn't it also pain that often makes us most aware of self? It is a terrible thing to learn as a child that one is a being separate from the world, that no one and no thing hurts along with one's burned tongues and skinned knees, that one's aches and pains are all one’s own. Even more terrible, as we grow old, to learn that no person, no matter how beloved, can ever truly understand us. Our own selves make us most unhappy, and that's why we're so anxious to lose them, don't you think?

Beauty is rarely soft or consolatory. Quite the contrary. Genuine beauty is always quite alarming.

Does such a thing as 'the fatal flaw,' that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life, exist outside literature? I used to think it didn't. Now I think it does. And I think that mine is this: a morbid longing for the picturesque at all costs.

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