Catching up to the rest of the universe

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Just finished reading Gone Girl, and I really mean just; about half an hour ago. This is NOT a review because I can’t be bothered putting too much effort into writing about this. Not because it’s not good, not because I don’t have plenty to say, simply because after a bad night’s sleep and a distracting muddling day (my daughter is at Big Day Out and all I can think of are ecstasy overdoses and mosh-pit crushings) means the day I intended to spend writing has leaked out of my hands and I am in a funny, lazy mood. My husband is making lasagne, though, and there’s wine in the fridge, so all is not lost.

I will say this though. Gone Girl very quickly impressed me. I was impressed with  her writing, her humour and the two character voices – for the first half of the book Nick (the husband whose wife goes missing) and Diary Amy (his wife’s voice through the pages of her diary). I was also intrigued by Flynn’s depiction of America gone wrong. I haven’t read a book which casually includes the individual personal financial struggles of ordinary Americans, mall closures and house-foreclosures as part of the landscape. Several times while reading of the job losses of each of the main characters and the impact on regional centres, I thought to myself: lucky. Lucky to be in this country. So what if my kids may not be able to buy a house when they grow up. Still lucky we aren’t in as much strife as some other places.

Gone Girl is a completely compelling read all the way up to and well beyond the half-way mark where everything changes (in a rather brilliant way). Flynn is smart, and she gives us smart characters, especially Amy. At the mid-point, the story twists and spins off into another direction, it’s a large-magnitude twist, and Flynn manages to keep ’em coming, layering conflict and drama right up until the end. I did sniff the smoke of melodrama during the last quarter and made a mental note of disappointment. I felt it was a shame that the restraint and tight-management of plot and character was let go a little at times.

I can’t say where it started to lose it’s total grip on me, maybe about 3/4 of the way through. I’m okay with neither character being entirely likeable, in fact their flaws make them more intriguing but I did begin to feel manipulated by the writer, I started to feel it was becoming repetitive, and by the final ten pages I was actually feeling something close to derision, turning the page, seeing it was still going, and chortling: Enough, stop! I know this was meant to be Amy and Nick each trying to get the last word in (?) but to me, it was too much.

It’s been a while since I’ve been so immersed in a book from beginning to end, actively looking forward to picking it up again because I really wanted to see what would happen. It is impressive and well-written and I think it deserves its success but ultimately it’s not much more than a slick and utterly commercial thriller/mystery albeit with a resonant depiction of a marriage (some of the relationship behaviours and responses that Nick and Amy display are very real). I’m not quite sure though why Bret Easton Ellis was so jizzy about it.

2 thoughts on “Catching up to the rest of the universe

  1. This is a good, honest write-up. Sometimes there are great things about book, but if some things just don’t seem to fit together it can be a little disappointing.

    No wonder you’re mind is on other things with your daughter at the Big Day Out – I was always a little jittery when my kids used to go. When they started feeling that they were ‘too old’ for it, I breathed a sigh of relief. Have a wine. Relax 😀

  2. Hi Dianne I survived the BDO, but when I picked up my blithely unconcerned, confident, cool daughter she was on her own. I didn’t make a big deal of it, she’s pretty street smart and just normal smart, but I was a little unsettled that she’d been left by her friends. Apparently she spent the alone-time dancing. More power to her, I say. She had a great time and I didn’t show that I was edgy about it, I don’t think.

    You’re right about the response to the book. I wasn’t disappointed as much as just got a little weary but overall it was a good read and I’ve recommended it, so that’s probably the best indication of an individual response. You don’t recommend books you think are shite.

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