Donna Tartt   The Secret History.
Knopf, 524 pages, $23

reviewed by Brooke Allen

For those who follow promotional hype in the literary world, Donna Tartt is the newest young star around. In the middle of a time of severe belt-tightening among publishing houses, she received a $450,000 advance (for a first novel) from Knopf, and Knopf’s bold move was almost immediately justified by large foreign and film rights sales for the book, The Secret History. Touted by literary lights as diverse as Willie Morris and Bret Easton Ellis, Tartt has been hailed as a major talent, a classical, formal, “serious” novelist in an MTV world.

After having read Vanity Fair’s fulsome puff-piece (“Smart Tartt,” September 1992), in which Tartt reveals herself as an...


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