Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl

I had a very mixed response to Gone Girl, and a decidedly see-saw reading experience. It features two strong and very distinct authorial voices, both rendered with considerable verve, and these initially drew me in. But I quickly grew impatient with long lags between broad hints (not nearly subtle enough to be called foreshadows) and eventual revelation of the hinted-at things. For instance, if a character admits to several lies during an initial interview with the police, I expect to learn something about those lies relatively soon. (This is my least favorite form of hiding information from the reader: when a character is fully aware of — and likely actually contemplating — the relevant events, and the reader is in the dark only to build dramatic tension; it often feels very artificial to me, and certainly did here.) I presume Flynn was shooting for a Patricia Highsmith-ish sense of mounting dread, but it also felt a bit like Flynn was not writing for an audience that was not highly aware of and attentive to mystery/suspense conventions. Later I had an entirely different negative reaction, when the novel introduced a trope that I think is actively harmful to women in real life. Finally the novel took a series of turns that, for me at least, abandoned any pretense toward the naturalistic depiction of real people and events. I appreciated the giddy, over-the-top, and even Jim Thompsonesque level of WTFery the novel eventually achieved, albeit in an abstract, emotionally distanced way. (Skirting spoilers: it alleviated my concerns about the harmful-to-women plot device, because suggesting that particular plot device only occurs in absurdly unrealistic situations is perhaps even helpful.)

Published by therealsummervillain

likes: equality, making things easier to use, biking, jangle, distortion, monogamy dislikes: bigotry, policies that jeopardize people, lack of transparency

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