I heard the movie is a psychological thriller so I thought I would read Gillian Flynn's book first. It's sick, twisted, and excellent. I still haven't seen the movie. I loved the alternating point-of-view narrative between husband and wife. Flynn is a little too smart for her own good. It's difficult to distinguish which is more pretentious - her writing or her characters. But the story moves. It's a roller coaster ride through a gloriously dysfunctional marriage into the black depths of a psychopath's mind. Even though the book starts dramatically, it is tough to like the characters in the beginning so the first half is kind of a slog. The second half really picks up as the plott twists get going and the tension accelerates. The thing I enjoyed most about the book is how Flynn depicts the depraved aspects of marriage - as a theater of disguised intentions and an endless war for control. Oh, and Flynn really likes to use italics. In her book, italics are everywhere.
I want to share two memorable quotes from the book. Nick, an embattled husband whose wife has gone missing, talks to his neighbor about his wife's disappearance. She is extremely hostile towards him for reasons he cannot fathom and Nick has the following thought:
She went away. I thought the unkind thought, one of those that burbled up beyond my control. I thought: Women are fucking crazy. No qualifier: Not some women, not many women. Women are crazy.
First comment: As Nick will find out, all women are indeed crazy but some women are a couple standard deviations crazier than others. Second comment: It absolutely tickles me that a woman wrote that line.
Nick, again, bemoaning the bankruptcy of his hometown mall as a metaphor for the bankruptcy of his soul:
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 criticisim 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 reference immediately to a movie or TV show. A fucking commercial. You know the awful singsong of the blase. Seeen it. I've literally seen it all, and the worst things, 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 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. . . 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's a over-the-top existential but it was still a thought-provoking paragraph to read. It makes me realize my most delightful life experiences were small, everyday moments that have never been captured in a movie - they're too unique yet mundane. And some of the most pleasurable occasions are those experienced in reflection - that a movie or TV show or video or picture can't quite completely capture. Overall, this book is an insightful, thrilling read.