I just finished reading Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. If I judge by the sheer number of Amazon reviews, Mrs Flynn (Miss ??) seems to be the writer du jour. I picked Gone Girl from the Kindle Store best selling list. Boy was I not prepared for it.
It surprises me not that the rights were purchased to make a Hollywood flick. Not just any movie, either, since it’s bound to be directed by David Fincher himself, the same genius who pulled Seven, The Game, Zodiac, Benjamin Button, but moreover the absolutely cult Fight Club, whose only and mighty female character my very daughter was named after (Marla Singer, magistrally played by the mesmerizing and ever talented Elena Bonham Carter).
So back to the book. It’s a shrewd, smart, devilishly twisted and beautifully written mystery of sorts, which also happens to be a cruelly accurate and deeply dissected philosophical analysis of men/women relationship (marriage and betrayal included). A not so optimistic look it also given on how parenting profoundly affects and defines a child’s future personality. In one word, it’s chilling.
There is one paragraph in particular that sent an icy chill down my spine, and it goes like this : “There is an unfair reponsability that comes with being an only child _ you grow up knowing you aren’t allowed to disappoint, you’re not even allowed to die. There isn’t a replacement toddling around; you’re it. It makes you desperate to be flawless, and it also makes you drunk with the power. In such ways are despots made”.
I thought it went well with the picture of Marla above. And it made me reflect, me who have two sister and was raised lovingly, if a little as an accessory by my very busy parents sometimes (they did what they had to, but had more important stuff to worry about than their kids. As long as we were fed, bathed and clothed, our emotional well being could wait). As parents my husband and I are not like that. Our lives do revolve around our only child. And yes, it makes it tricky for her, as for us. I don’t want to raise a despot for sure. Yes she has shown abilities to become one if allowed to. And it’s been our fault, of course. Finding the perfect balance between listening, support, guidance and discipline ain’t easy. Not easy at all.
So otherwise I encourage you to read the book. It’s sleek and clever but not only on the surface. It’s also genuinely well written, brilliantly crafted, and deeply thought provoking (if more than once scaring and not all that optimistic). It reflects a lot on how we fall in, and out of, love, and how it has more to do with us than with the other end of the equation. How we do not so much love the other for him/herself, but rather for how they make us feel and see ourselves. Oh how all love stories are somehow self centered, including those involving our children.
Given how clever and twisted the three fourths of the book are, it was almost impossible for the author to pull a solid, credible end. So the last part gets a little sketchy and really unlikely, but I’ve enjoyed most the book so much I’m really to forgive that small flaw, and recommend it wholeheartedly anywyay.