Archive for the ‘Gillian Flynn’ Tag

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SharpObjects

Gillian Flynn writes books that are hard to put down filled with characters that are even harder to enjoy – or forget. Like her wildly popular recent work Gone Girl, Flynn’s 2006 debut novel, Sharp Objects, is full of dysfunctional relationships and twisted back stories; imagine Mommie Dearest meets Mean Girls.

Sharp Objects is immediately engaging: Camille Preaker, a third-rate newspaper reporter at an equally-lackluster Chicago newspaper, is sent to her hometown in rural Missouri to investigate the murder of two preteen girls. Camille’s self-deprecating manner initially creates empathy. It’s enhanced, for a short time, by the strained connection she has with her cold, distant mother, Adora. Slowly, the murders become background material as Camille’s childhood, and how she relates to them, comes to the forefront.

Adora lacks maternal instinct, and Camille’s approach to dealing with the emotional damage inflicted by her mother is as far from healthy as Neptune is from earth. In fact, Adora, unapologetically voices her disdain for Camille. In addition to Adora and Camille, the novel features a range of characters affected by the murders, and no one emerges kindly. The degree to which they are disturbed is varied and this is what helps make the book so compelling.

This who-dunnit is very creepy. The list of possibilities is short, so when the culprit is revealed, it’s not surprising just jarring. What’s most unexpected is the number of clues Flynn provides about Camille’s and the town’s secrets; those are much more difficult to anticipate.

Sharp Objects
Four Bookmarks
Three Rivers Press, 2006
254 pages

Disturbing and Capitivating   6 comments

I was on the library’s waiting list for Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl for months. When it was finally ready for me to check out, I was impatient to start reading. After mentioning this to a friend, her reaction was less than exuberant, it was baffling. After all, the novel was so popular there’d been hundreds ahead of me waiting for a library copy. It’s been on Publisher Weekly’s list of Best Hardcover Fiction for 15 weeks – and appears pretty comfortable there. I pressed my friend for more, but she held fast: we’d talk when I finished.

Gone Girl is a mystery on several levels, including how I spent time living with such unlikeable characters for the past week? The story follows the disappearance of Amy on her fifth wedding anniversary. By all indications, her husband, Nick, is responsible. Amy and Nick alternate as narrators. The book is divided into three sections. The first focuses on the disappearance, possibly abduction or possibly murder. Nick comes across as shallow and surprised, not upset, at his wife’s unexplained absence. He seems guilty, which is reinforced by Amy-as-victim told through diary entries.

The second and third sections of the book reveal much more about Amy’s ability to weave complicated webs of deceit. It’s not that Nick is suddenly less appalling, but Amy is more so.  Flynn is a craftswoman. Her characters are fully developed as repulsive and intriguing. They’re also scary, always a good thing for a mystery, and I couldn’t look away. I need to talk to my friend.

Gone Girl
Four Bookmarks
Crown Publishers, 2012
415 pages