Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Gone Girl--Book Review

(a) People in relationships are like this
(b) There are people in relationships like this
(c) This may be an exaggeration but all relationships are like this to a lesser extent.
(d) None of the above

Answer C.  (Don't kid yourself, the answer is C not D).

Gone Girl--is billed as a page turner. The reviewers have been ecstatic. In my paperback copy there are five pages of excerpts from raving critics. My reaction is more subdued. That said, it is, incontrovertibly, a page turner.  After I got to about page 100 I was gone.  After page 200--about half way through--the cliche "you can not put it down" was accurate.

The book is about a couple, two journalists, who have been laid off in New York and move to Missouri to be near the husband's failing mother and ailing father.  The woman wrote quizzes in magazines like the one that begins this blog entry.  She also keeps a diary and for the first half of the book the story is told in alternate narratives: the man writing--and then an excerpt from the woman's diary.

I have never read a book by Gillian Flynn but I am sure now I will read another. This was so well written. The film (which I understand is forthcoming) could not capture the novel because so much that is marvelous (literally, you marvel at it) about the writing is not in dialogue and could not be captured wholly visually.  Flynn describes the thought processes of both main characters vividly.  Some of the secondary characters, particularly the man's twin sister, are also drawn well.

The problem is that a and b in my little quiz above are really not the case.  As a general rule, relationships are not as fakakt as this one and while there are some people as fakakt as a main character in this novel, this person is an anomaly. If in your experience, you have met an abundance of these folks, it is time to move. I have met my share of strange ducks, but we are talking very strange events here.

I do think though that C above is the correct answer.  How we connect with others, the deals we make, are often very peculiar and incomprehensible to those on the outside.

If you have read my reviews in the past you know that a primary criterion I use when I evaluate books is how likely it is that the story and theme will stay with me. I don't think this one will linger.  The character is so bizarre and the ending tough to buy.  So on the primary criterion I don't think this book is as "fab" as the critics.

A secondary criterion I use relates to how well the book is written. On this score, this is a terrific read. If you are looking for something to jumpstart your reading habit--and don't mind reading about lunatics--then I highly recommend it.  Also some fast reads have too many unlikely twists and turns.  I do think the events here are abnormal and the ending frightening if you consider it plausible.  Still, the read does not include trains about to run down people who slip on a banana peel and lurch onto the tracks only to be saved by a man in a wheelchair who just happens to be holding a lasso and used to work in the rodeo.  In that sense, the story follows.

So, on balance, my recommendation

(a) You should read the book if you like to read
(b) You should not read the book.
(c) You will enjoy having read the book.

answer is a and c.

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