“For several years, I had been bored. Not a whining, restless child’s boredom (although I was not above that) but a dense, blanketing malaise. It seemed to me that there was nothing new to be discovered ever again. Our society was utterly, ruinously derivative (although the word derivative as a criticism is itself derivative). We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, the Empire State Building. Jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can’t recall a single amazing thing I have seen firsthand that I didn’t immediately reference to a movie or TV show. A fucking commercial. You know the awful singsong of the blasé: Seeeen it. I’ve literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the thing that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can’t anymore. I don’t know that we are actually human at this point, those of us who are like most of us, who grew up with TV and movies and now the Internet. If we are betrayed, we know the words to say; when a loved one dies, we know the words to say. If we want to play the stud or the smart-ass or the fool, we know the words to say. We are all working from the same dog-eared script.
It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters.
And if all of us are play-acting, there can be no such thing as a soul mate, because we don’t have genuine souls.
It had gotten to the point where it seemed like nothing matters, because I’m not a real person and neither is anyone else.
I finally get down to reviewing this book. The queen of procrastination I am!
1.How/Why/Where did you buy the book?
The book was published in 2012, but I hadn’t heard of it until the movie came out. Once the movie publicity and PR promos began, the book seemed to be everywhere. I wanted to see the movie, and so it was a given that I had to read the book!
I intended to order it over Amazon (the actual “book”) but the Flipkart eBook app teased and taunted me with insane discounts. So I ended up buying the digital version at about one-fourth the price of the paper version.
2. What is the book about?
About Nick Dunne and his missing wife Amy Dunne. Both are out of work writers stuck in a floundering marriage. Amy wants to revive old flames, and give their marriage another shot. But on their fifth wedding anniversary, a day when Amy uncharacteristically prepares breakfast for Nick and actually talks to him like the wife she once was; she goes missing.
It looks like there was an intruder. Was she kidnapped? Murdered perhaps?
Nick seemed perturbed and confused initially. But some things don’t add up. And soon, he becomes a prime suspect in the the whole “Amy Dunne Disappearance Drama”.
3. First impressions?
It was number 1 on the New York Times Hardcover Fiction Bestseller list for eight weeks apparently. It was widely praised by the critics and general public alike. And so, I was expecting something extra- ordinary.
I was disappointed though. Especially at the start. I was not sure where the story was heading. But then I hoped the abrupt, random, inconsistent narrative maybe be purposeful. I was hoping it might all coalesce into one fantastic story.
4. Final evaluation?
I wish I hadn’t got into the book with such high expectations. I would have definitely appreciated and enjoyed it more without all the hoopla and PR baggage that it came with.
Notwithstanding the hype, it was still enjoyable. A slightly different take on long- term relationships, marriage and man- woman dynamics. And the “greyness” of all the characters, especially the protagonist is refreshing. Women are usually not portrayed in the manner Flynn has, in this book. And so, if you can get past the inconsistent first- half, it will be a pleasurable read. Not boring. Not jaw- clenching either.
Some of inner- monologues of the two primary characters are interesting and associable.
5. How long did it take to finish?
An over- night train journey and the morning after. (Please do keep in mind, that “reading with baby” times are very different from the usual reading times!)
The author claims the book is a psychological thriller which also explores the psychology and dynamics of a marriage.
In all honesty though it is not as deep and probing as it is made out to be.
I will not share too much of the story here, as I do not wish to spoil it for those who have not read it yet. But yes, it does belong to the suspense/ thriller genre. Not to the crime- solving/ detective genre mind you.
It has a sort of “he- said, she- said” narration. I enjoyed that, where we get to hear both the man’s and woman’s point of view.
The story begins well. But somewhere in the middle, things get predictable. The ending wasn’t as nail- biting as I wished it were.
The book does have it’s moments thought. There are twists and surprises, yes; but nothing that will make you lay the book down for a second, sit back, sigh and ponder. No. Nothing of that sort.
The language is inconsistent, very contemporary and “new- age-ish” at times and suddenly all deep and recondite. Wish it were more consistent.
As far as the ending goes…. well… read it to find out! I only wish Ms Flynn was more adventurous with it.
7. Who would you recommend the book to?
Everyone actually. Don’t be fooled by all the fancy words and descriptions that the critics use. It’s a relatively easy read. Even those into simple, generic whodunits will enjoy this. And all the married folks will find a line or two that they can relate to, even if they are not morbid and twisted as the characters in the book. (Or maybe we are all secretly morbid and twisted!)
8. Would you read it again?
I think I may have to. In a while maybe. Just to make sure, I haven’t missed something spectacular. Who knows?
Books always need their own time, place and situations; for optimum enjoyment and comprehension. Some books are not meant to read when you have a million other things running in your head. I might have missed some subtle nuances, or some underlying subtexts/ plots in my exhausted, sleep- ridden state and in that cramped coach seat.
9. Do you regret purchasing it?
No. Moreover, I bought it for such a paltry sum that Ms Flynn would be aghast if she ever found out!
10. Favourite part/ quote from the book?
“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.
Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”)”
― Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
OOps…I hope there are no kids reading this!
I told you the married folks would be able to relate!
Till next time…