Book Review: Gone Girl

I’ve been on a non-fiction kick for a while now. But in Barnes and Noble the other day, I saw this black book..a simple cover with what appeared to be loose lines across the dust cover. On closer examination I saw that it was hair, wrapped around the book spine with wisps across the front. I don’t know what made me pick it up other than the fact that I am completely guilty of judging a book by its cover and  I do it all the time. (Books. I’m talking books.) Like usual, I read the back, then I read the flap, and then the first few sentences of chapter 1. It was enough. I went for it. I didn’t let my typical indecisive nature get the best of me even though I’ve never been one for murder mysteries or suspense thrillers. It also then struck me I’ve never actually read a murder mystery or suspense thriller–they’ve just never really appealed to me. But I’m trying to challenge my uniformed notions about things. Something about this one grabbed me, so I grabbed it back.

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I don’t know exactly how to do a review of literary suspense without giving things away, and there are so many things I could give away. Muah hah hah. But don’t worry I won’t. That’d be irresponsible so I won’t go far into detail. All I know is I took Monty to the park, sat on a towel in the sun and began reading. And even though I’m in sunny California, I could feel some kind of anxiousness growing in me, a glimmer of discomfort. It felt like it had gotten cloudy, like it was about to storm and I should go indoors. But reading the book indoors didn’t make me feel any more secure. It also didn’t stop me from reading every chance I had. I couldn’t put it down. Half of this book was read at 2 am with one eye open, because I was so tired that when both eyes were open I saw double. With one eye closed I could keep reading without double vision and without falling asleep. I was so exhausted night after night and I love sleep. I’m really good at it. But I needed to know what happened to Amy Dunne. She went missing on her and her husbands 5th wedding anniversary; not quite a “poof, gone” type of thing, but close. A strange trail of evidence and clues leftover, leaving me and most of the book characters scratching their heads. All but one.

The story is told through two voices; Nick Dunne, the husband, and via the missing Amy Dunne’s journal entries where we learn about their life together: how they met, their losses, and their recent move from New York City to the midwest along the Mississippi River. Both characters resonated quickly with me. I’ve had similar conversations and conflicts in my relationships, and I knew a lot of the feelings Amy Dunne was describing. But I also knew I was going to be thrown off simply because I was barely half way through the book and yet Amy had been missing 7 days, the cops had their killer, and something about Nick Dunne’s story felt wrong, and yet I wanted to believe him. Sometimes. And then I’d change my mind. It’s pretty classic in the “Crime rocks a small town” type of setup; the community gathering for support, the good cop/bad cop routine, press conferences with Amy’s parents in tears, and t-shirts and flyers with a pretty, missing wife on them. It’s all reminiscent of those stories we see on the news; Lacy Peterson, Natalie Holloway. The ones that sort of dominate our TV’s for a while, make Nancy Grace’s vains pop out, and then, kind of like Amy Dunne…leave, unresolved. Come to think of it, I need to google what happened in the cases of those women, because I only remember the sudden onslaught of news and anger and finger pointing, but I don’t actually remember hearing how it ends. America loves a pretty, missing woman. And the book touches on this phenomena too.

The most interesting part of the story for me is that the reader is no longer what we normally are in cases like this; the spectators. The jury. We’re used to seeing the stories on TV, seeing the pictures, hearing the accusations, and we often makes up our minds quickly about who’s at fault and who to feel sorry for. This time, we’re on the other end. We get to hear how police go about business like this. How reporters and the media can shift the people’s minds over night, if not faster. (It’s like being on the inside of a presidential campaign, I imagine.) We also get to hear the advice and rules a lawyer will give you when a country of strangers has their minds made up. The lawyer was my favorite character. I could see and hear him perfectly. I’ve seen commercials with this man, to a T. You probably have, too.

I finished the book about an hour ago. I have to say, I’m glad it’s over. I was getting tired. Not tired of the book, but tired from staying up so late every night trying to finish it. And a little tired from the unnerving nature of the story. I’d been talking about the book to my sister since I was only a few pages in. I tried to finish it before she left on a business trip this morning so she’d have something to read, and I really tried. I almost made it. But I didn’t. I told her to just buy her own copy at the airport. “It’s worth it.”  I don’t know how I feel about the ending. I just know I’m ready to go back to the park with Monty and actually enjoy the sun this time. There was something about reading that story amid green grass and perfect weather that didn’t add up. It’s like playing Radiohead at brunch. It just doesn’t match. I wouldn’t call getting lost in this book particularly pleasurable in the normal sense. It was uncomfortable at times, upsetting, unsettling. But so good, so well written, utterly surprising and disturbingly real. I don’t know how author Gillian Flynn did it, but props to her, because it rocked me, and a few million other readers. It got under my skin and stayed there, and probably will for a while. As uncomfortable as it could be, it was really fun to read, fun to think about it even when I was doing other things. It kept me coming back for more more more and I kept wondering how how HOW in the hell it would end. I’d assembled at least 10 potential conclusions; none of them were right. I admit though I rarely get these things right. I only know it made me fear women and it made me fear men. It is a work of fiction, but the parts that stick have delivered something very true, very real. I get the feeling that even when I sleep tonight, finally able to shut both of my eyes at a normal hour, this book will still be swirling around in there. (Amy Dunne is also a restless sleeper!) It’s that good. It sticks. Even after it’s…gone. Get it? Yeah, you get it.

Health, Happiness, Gone Girl.

*P.S. Rumor has it Hollywood bought the rights to this story. Read it before they kill it!

Sounds.

If there’s one thing I love listening to, it’s the idle conversations between couples. That casually themed chatter is sometimes the most revealing and genuine to witness between a couple and I love hearing it. I spent so much time in our office last year. It being attached to the kitchen and me being attached to the couch put me in prime eavesdropping territory. My eyes were often closed and for a little while each day, I experienced life purely through sounds and every once in a while, through smells. That became some kind of fun for me. The game changes when you’re couch bound. You come up with new ways to pass the time. And your attention pays itself to things you never noticed before.

My step-dad is usually whistling when he enters the kitchen, and the last note always has a strong bravado, which is impressive, because not everybody can do it. If it’s first thing in the morning he empties the ice maker into the sink that is inevitably clogged and frozen over from the night before. It’s been broken for a while now, but it will most likely be some ungodly amount to fix it, so we haven’t yet. If anyone is in the kitchen then you can bet on Monty being in the kitchen, too, his paws lightly stepping just behind whoever’s in there… Just waiting for something edible to drop. And no matter who it is out of all three of us, we all say “Hi buddy!” when we see him, in a usually very high pitched voice. I can almost hear his tail wag back.

My mom is a softer walker than my step-dad. Her feet “slide” on the hard wood floor and I notice mine do the same thing. Maybe it’s the fibro. Too weak to pick up our own stupid feet. Marc walks with purpose. My mom sortof glides; her feet swish between steps. Sometimes she walks in a room, looks around and then squints her eyes and says out loud “Now what did I come in here for?” From my lifeless position on the couch, sometimes I try to guess. “Reading glasses. Kool Aid. Drugs.” I hardly ever get it right.

My favorite sound from the kitchen is the sound of coffee being made, but that’s mostly because I love the sound that the cannisters which hold the coffee grounds make when you open and shut them. They’re those flip-up air tight stainless steel containters, and something about the sound eases me. Then the filling of water, the pouring of water, the spoon from the drawer, and the grunting burp the machine makes as the first few drops peep their way out. I like the sounds of the whole method. And the finale; the cup clinks on the marble counter, the pouring into the cup and the topping off with cream. It’s a nice process to listen to and I never get tired of it.

But back to these idle conversations. I’m not sure precisely when I started to become so fond of them, but I really do love to hear them. Usually it’s about groceries or about who called that day or talk of how his clients are doing and how one says to say hi, says to feel better. And its usually against a backdrop of dishes being loaded or soup being made or ice being dumped or something equally mundane, but there’s something reassuring about it. Something very real about it that makes me feel like everything is OK. Maybe it’s because there’s been enough heavy stuff in life so these moments where my mom is rearranging items in the fridge and we’re talking about whether we want homemade chicken noodle soup or vegetable beef soup is something to relish. Because those are simple and pleasurable decisions to make. Ones I will never get tired of making, or listening to.

I find that it’s a habit I’ve carried with me. Now I sit in one room and listen to all the sounds unfold in another. I still love listening to couples talk about nothing. I like hearing how they greet each other first thing in the morning. I especially like when I hear a couple laugh, just the two of them. I even like to hear them argue! But the harmless kindof arguing, not the arguments that stem from not loving well. I realize this makes me a bit of a creeper, but we’ve discussed this. I put it all out in the open about my creepy tendencies when I wrote about stalking girls wedding albums on facebook that I wasn’t even friends with. Creep. er.

Anyway, I’m not writing from the office these days, from my couch that I was essentially physically attached to for so long. I’m a bit more mobile now. But I still think about for how long I layed in that room, quiet, and listened to what life sounded like. It’s funny that sometimes even listening to idle talk about soup and groceries still somehow managed to make me feel like I was part of the conversation–that I wasn’t so far from life. I still lie in rooms listening to parties or whathaveyou in the next one over. Last night I was listening to friends playing Catch Phrase, and I knew one of the answers and couldn’t keep it to myself so I belted it out. I knew the next answer too, so I belted that one as well. I heard them cheer, so finally, I got up, and joined the game like a normal human being. You can only listen to the next room for so long. At some point, you gotta crawl out of the cave. It’s something I’m working on.

Health, Happiness, Noise!

The Very Creepy Things I Do

This is something I did today. While driving across the causeway in my 2004 green corolla, I blared Justin Bieber’s “Baby” really loud and sang pretty near the top of my lungs, hitting all the high notes while staying in my lower register. It felt really good. So then, I blared Lady Gaga “Born this Way” and again, belted it…awkwardly making loud generic sounds at the parts where I didn’t know the lyrics. That turned out to be fun so I played some Edward Sharp and continued giving a free live show to all of Lake Ponchartrain. Then, I put on one of my favorites; Lil Wayne. Because nothing makes a scrawny white girl driving a corolla feel cooler than belting the lyrics to “Lollilop” or basically any song from Tha Carter III. Another great one by Wayne, (that’s what you call him if you’re tight with him) is “I’m Me.” It makes me feel like being a loser is really cool. “You can love me or hate me, I swear it won’t make me or break me.” Yeeeeah…take THAT America! Bill O’Reilly!

You know what bothers me? When someone starts singing along to a song, but they start singing really seriously. Like the look on their face is really emotional and you’re like “Should I stop telling the story about my brother sharting on himself?”(Real story) Anyway it always makes me a little uncomfortable. I’m all about singing to the Heavens while you’re in your car, but while you have passengers? No. No, no, no. It’s like they’re performing a show for you that you never planned to attend. And sometimes they carry on a little too long where you feel like you’re supposed to say “Wow, you have a great voice!” But if there’s a third person in the car, they’ll usually say “Who sings this song?” And the person singing too loudly will say “Mariah Carrey.” And then the third person will say “Yeah, let’s keep it that way.” This usually upsets the performer and prompts her to sing louder just to annoy passenger three. If there’s a fourth passenger, he’ll yell something like “Yeah, DON’T quit your day job!!” and then high five passenger 3. I am passenger 2 in this scenario, and I’m rolling my eyes. Because I hate both of those phrases, probably even more than emotional sing alongs.

While we’re on the subject of…whoa I haven’t even stuck to what I titled this. I’m going to have to change it. But what I was going to write is that I hate when girls get married and then start referring to their husbands as their “hubby.” And then their FB status is all “Can’t wait till my hubby gets home and we get to pick my elbow scab!” Or something equally fun. I just wonder how that terminology began, because I see the transition unfold before my eyes. Before the wedding: boyfriend. After the wedding: hubby. Ew! But you know what I LOVE?! Looking at people’s wedding albums on Facebook. Oh God, I could do that all day. I don’t even have to remotely know the person. And here is a creepy thing I have done. I typed in a girls name that I went to high school with because I hadn’t heard about her in a long time. She kindof has a generic name. But, the first name that popped up, was this different girl, a girl who lived in Shreveport. (A girl I didn’t know.) She was pretty and I saw that her profile picture was of her and her hubby (see what I did there?) at the alter. I clicked on her profile to see that 1. her profile was public and 2. she had gotten married a month earlier. DING DING DING. I looked through like 150 pictures-all of them- wedding party, father-daughter dance, and the old grandma busting a move (classic). Then I thought about just how creepy it was what I was doing and my phone rang and I took it as a sign that I should stop. So I did. And now, for some INSANE reason I’ve shared that with the world. You’re welcome. Well, sorry. But more, you’re welcome.

Health, Happiness, CREEPERS