Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Turning Page - Gone Girl

Is there anything that makes you happier than this picture?
Other than Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love.
Or is that just me?

The me who sometimes picks reading over showering. Who's dream job is to be a high school English teacher. Who happily wrote friends' essays in high school and college for cash. Who quotes Robert Herrick AND Stephenie Meyer for fun. Who will find a way to buy a book even when we can't pay our electric bill. That me. She loves this picture. She wants to walk right inside it and get lost. As long as there is a Diet Coke vending machine around that back corner. And RG with a pocket full of change.

But, I can name one. One thing that makes me happier.
When I read a book that is fantastic.

I read like a fiend. And I am one of those people who will find something redeeming about almost anything bound between two covers. I've never started a book and not finished it...even when it was really hard to do so. I always keep thinking: The next page will be better, will be the reason I picked the book up in the first place, will validate the time spent on it. And usually, it is.

I'm not saying every book is fantastic. Dear God, I beg of you. No. It's more like, for me, every book is worth reading. But there are very few that are fantastic. And by fantastic I and easy, while still being thought provoking. A page turner that builds at a steady pace but doesn't cram it down your throat. A story that keeps you guessing and makes you work...but is written in such a way that you enjoy the journey. Characters who take you on the trip, but don't leave you to manipulate the turns yourself before they happen or when they don't. And above all else, prose that makes you want to underline, repeat, memorize, re-read and quote the ish out of what is in your hands. 

THAT is a fantastic book.
THAT is better than RG and CoinStar and the Kindle app all rolled up in one. 
That last sentence is probably bullshit, but you get the GIST

Here's where I'm gonna sound like a lunatic.
(You already expect that from me, so it's okay.)
Gone Girl is a fantastic book. 

I'm kinda obsessed with it, it's so brilliantly written. But, hell if I'm not struggling to love it. I want to! And you should read it. Like yesterday...GO READ IT. I'm just still a little pissed off at it, right now. I love/hate it.
And here's why:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is one of the most well written books I have had the pleasure of reading this year. We're talking 30+ books. I wish you could see my copy. The first 3/4 of the book has notes in the margins, whole paragraphs underlined, stars next to words, hearts next to quotes, dog eared page after dog eared page, and multiple sentences at the end of chapters where I write things like "WHOA, this girl can write!...Way to wrap up!...Holy ish, stop and process that!...This is why I read!"

But it only gets 4 out of 5 stars, from me, because of the ending. The final 1/4 of my book is empty. No notes. No dog eared pages. I think I kept turning those final pages in disbelief. WHAT. the. double. eff. was happening? Let me explain. In the rambling, round about way I do so well...why I LOVE this book. But it's driving me crazy.

I remember a discussion from one of my college philosophy classes that centered around a quote...kill me, I forget who said it...Marguerite somebody...but it went something like "the mask, if given time, will come to be the face itself."

Basically - if you are constantly living a fake life, putting on airs for all those close to you, does the fake become true? Does who you are to everyone else replace the real you? I couldn't stop thinking about this quote and college class discussion when I was reading this book.

What if you discovered, after years of marriage, your spouse had only been showing you their "fake" selves? To you, however, their "mask" was the truth. It was what you'd built your life together on. Once you realized this...could you forgive your mate? Understand them? Stay married to them? These are the dark questions - beautifully, brilliantly, and catastrophicallypresented by Gillian Flynn in Gone Girl. 

I've been married for 13 years, and I'd venture to say, every married couple, whether 5 months or 5 years into the partnership, faces the common concerns of money, parenthood, illness, relocation, job security, and in-laws. But Flynn takes these trials and uses them in the most uncommon way possible. She sets her characters on a path that is disturbing, dark, twisted, and sometimes horrifying. But it's also irresistible. 

The protagonist, Nick Dunne, discovers on his 5th Anniversary, that his wife, Amy, has gone missing. Before long, despite his best efforts, Nick is the prime suspect in the investigation. Did Nick kill Amy? A lot of people think so, but her body hasn't been found. Is Amy still alive? What was lurking beneath the surface of their picture perfect marriage? It must be something unsettling, because even Nick's sister and Amy's parents are unsure of his innocence. But they are also unsure of Amy's true whereabouts. 

Gone Girl is a mystery, and a romance, and a crime scene, and a thriller. What I loved best about it, however, is that it's also a slow burn. It strings you along in the best way possible. Right when you think you've got everyone (and everything) figured out...BAM! No you don't. U-Turn. Flynn changes everything. Her character development is fierce. You can see and feel and HEAR each and every one of them. I would not expect to identify with a narcissist (Nick and Amy are both this, in their own needy ways, I believe) or a sociopath (Amy Amy Amy)...but Flynn makes it so you do! She alternates, chapter by chapter, the narration, so that your point of view changes between Nick and Amy, as does your allegiance. With each turn of the page, you find yourself relating to them individually. Subsequently, it's harder to decide who to root for! Both seem to be hiding secrets: Amy with her diary, Nick with his disposable phone. But who do you want to believe? Both are likable. And that is testament to Flynn's brilliant writing. 

There is so much that is awesome about this book, I hate to not give it 5 stars...maybe after my book club discussion tonight, I will change my mind. But right now, I am still needing more from the end. I think it was more Nick's actions that were surprising to me than Amy's. I don't want to give anything away, but those who have read the book, I believe you will agree with me when I say, the ending did not sit well. I need a sequel or something...this cannot be how the story ends for these characters!

With all that being said, please GO READ THIS BOOK! It is so brilliant in so many ways. You are missing out on a great fun ride if you don't. Especially getting to know 'Go' (Margo) Nick's twin sister, who is as endearing as she is crass and hilarious. I find myself quoting her in real life.

"If I had a dick, I'd fuck this peanut butter." 

Holy. That was funny.
Shockingly CRASS!
But so funny. And I don't even like peanut butter.

Some more of my favorite quotes:

“There's no app for a bourbon buzz on a warm day in a cool, dark bar. The world will always want a drink.” 

“Because isn’t that the point of every relationship: to be known by someone else, to be understood? He gets me. She gets me. Isn’t that the simple magic phrase?” 

“Friends see most of each other’s flaws. Spouses see every awful last bit.” 

“Love makes you want to be a better man. But maybe love, real love, also gives you permission to just be the man you are.”

Here's what I'm making for book club tonight. 
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Herb Aioli

Cause my kids would rather eat dog poop than brussel sprouts. But roasted anything dipped in garlic anything is akin to Ryan Gosling in my book. So I must use this opportunity of grown women + good wine to indulge. Brussel Sprouts are kinda like the new, chic artichoke...No? I say yes.
Recipe HERE

Want to know what Flynn wrote that I thought you could write a whole Thesis on?? Here ya go. Think on it. I still am. (and just sit on how fierce this woman writes for two seconds...WHOA)

"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 would have done anything to feel real again.” 
-Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl

(holy crap, right?)
the reason I read.


Michelle {Daydream Believers} said...

whoa! That paragraph (and your review) have me intrigued! This will be my next read! Thanks for the recomendation!

everydaymomma said...

I want to read it but get so mad when a book ends badly, so I don't think I can do it! It drives me crazy!

Ashlee @ Growing Up A Thomas said...

Ok it's my pick for book club and this just sealed the deal! Totally intrigued! And that last paragraph? I wrote my communication senior thesis in college on a similar premises... "Does communication affect our perception of reality?"

Janna said...

I just read this book yesterday! Awesome that you are reviewing it today! I also LOVED the book, but hated the ending.

And I wrote papers for friends & siblings in high school & college too - ha! :)

Polka Dot Moon said...

Need this book NOW!

(I have put down a book - not you know which one!!)

I need a book club here!

Marta @ Haus of Girls said...

so when can I borrow your copy? notes and all?

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