Finishing An American Tragedy is an accomplishment. Now moving on to another book of daunting size that has been sitting on the shelf, The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I must have acquired it during college but never got to it. The book has been become an international bestseller and cult classic twenty years after it was first published in 1992. The novel’s narrator is Richard Papen: 19, gawky, insecure and anxious to fit in. He’s an Everyman, or at least an Everyteenager. Arriving at Hampden, a small liberal arts college in Vermont, from his hometown in California, Richard is overwhelmed by his new surroundings. Richard’s fellow Greek students hold themselves apart from the rest of Hampden, openly disdaining its partying, chattering hordes. Together they form a very tight and closed group, almost cultish, under the tutelage of Professor Julian Morrow, who directs their studies in ancient Greek culture and its beauty. Added to my pleasure and interest is the fact that it’s been clear from the first page that they were doomed. The novel’s prologue opens with a dead body at the bottom of a ravine and the narrator’s confession of murder. It’s a literary whydunit. I cannot wait for the pages to unfold, for there is a continuous sense of psychological tension.