First entry: Has this ever happened to you? You’re barreling along, caught up in the narrative of whatever novel you’ve got in your hands, when you suddenly stop: fascinated by the imagery—or cadence—or style—or energy—of a particular passage. A paragraph, or two, or twelve. Advancing, enhancing the book as a whole, yet wonderful to read its own right, too.
I’m less than a hundred pages into Gone Girl, and I can’t tell yet if it’s great. But I’ve already paused a few times to admire Gillian Flynn’s style, particularly as she gives voice to Nick Dunne: laid-off magazine writer, returned townie, left-behind husband. The novel takes place against the backdrop of our current economic malaise, and Nick’s reflections capture that downward spiral, our downward spiral.
About his neighborhood:
Mike and I took turns mowing all the abandoned foreclosed properties in the complex—heavy rains in the spring had turned yards into jungles, which encouraged an influx of raccoons. We had raccoons everywhere, gnawing through our garbage late at night, sneaking into our basements, lounging on our porches like lazy house pets. The mowing didn’t seem to make them go away, but we could at least see them coming.
And later, about what had been his hometown’s major employer:
For a quarter century, the Riverway Mall was a given. Then the recession hit, washed away the Riverway store by store until the whole mall finally went bust. It is now two million square feet of echo. No company came to claim it, no businessman promised a resurrection, no one knew what to do with it or what would become of all the people who’d worked there, including my mother, who lost her job at Shoe-Be-Doo-Be–two decades of kneeling and kneading, of sorting boxes and collecting moist foot hosiery, gone without ceremony.
Second entry: I’ve finished Gone Girl, but most of the comments I’d want to make—whether on the plot, characters, or style—would inevitably hint at the twists along the way and the conclusion: what we read for in a thriller, right?
At one stage, I started making (somewhat obsessive) little notes about the various oddities and inconsistencies that were surely clues. I was determined to stay on my toes!
I think that Gone Girl illustrates how point of view—and perhaps even particularly alternating points of view—can cause the reader to, by turns, empathize with, doubt, and despise different characters. Flynn does a clever job with this. Almost too clever a job—such that I began to feel more than a bit manipulated. Which is, perhaps, the point…