Guest Post: Gillian Flynn Chicago Discussion of Gone Girl

I’m excited to welcome the lovely Rachelle B as today’s guest blogger! She was kind enough to attend Gillian Flynn’s discussion and book signing in Chicago. If you’re wondering, I’m the friend who sent the book.

Credit: Rachelle B

Photo Credit: Rachelle B

On 2/13/13 I had the opportunity to hear Gillian Flynn speak at the Harold Washington Library. I had never read anything by this author, but a friend of mine in New Mexico is a huge fan, so I figured I’d check her out. My friend ended up sending me a copy of Flynn’s newest book, Gone Girl, so I definitely had to go now.

I’m so glad I did. Flynn is an entertaining and inspirational person. When asked when her interest in writing ‘darker’ books began, she told us that her very first short story was about a girl who ultimately gets eaten by wolves—she was in the 3rd grade.

What I found particularly interesting is that she worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years before becoming a published novelist. As someone who used to churn creative fiction/short stories out without issue, the research writing that grad school demanded of me took that creativity. In her case, it seemed to be the opposite. She was able to transition from journalism to fiction with ease. She said that it takes her about two years to write a novel and that by the end of the book her office flutters with post-it notes (her main way of taking notes and staying organized).

She is very personable, friendly, and outgoing. I am definitely going to check out her books, and the movie adaptations when those come out (She talked very little about the movies, as they are very much in the planning stage. She did confirm that she will be writing the screenplays and that Hollywood doesn’t want her to make any major changes to the plot.). —Rachelle B

The Society of Midland Authors & the Chicago Public Library recorded the event and you can listen to Gillian Flynn’s discussion and Q&A:

Book Review: Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl

11162684-largeTitle: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Series: No
Rating: 4 out of 5
My Copy: Purchased

Gone Girl has been sitting in my to be read pile for awhile now and even though I’m late to the party, I have finally arrived. I’ve never read Gillian Flynn before and even though I’ve seen her books around, nothing really prompted me to read anything of hers before. I kept seeing people rave about her latest and I finally decided to see for myself. I can’t believe I waited this long.

What I can say about Gone Girl without spoiling it? Nick Dunne isn’t going to win the husband of the year award and when his wife, Amy, goes missing on the day of their fifth anniversary, questions soon arise about his true character. Nick himself is hiding a few secrets and he maintains his innocence regarding his role in his wife’s disappearance. If he didn’t do it, who did? And the big question is, where is Amy? This is one of those mysteries where you think you have it all figured out and then Flynn comes and pulls the rug from under you. It’s hard to sympathize with one particular character. Most readers might be Team Nick or Team Amy or perhaps Team Neither. I admit I was bored out of mind about 14% in, but once I hit 25% things picked up for me. If you’re the type who likes straight one-person narrative, you might find Gone Girl annoying because you do get both narratives from Nick and Amy, however; Flynn does a superb job breaking down narrative chapters and each chapter goes hand in hand.

Ultimately what I enjoyed about Flynn’s novel is how right she is about marriage and people. Now I’m not married and can’t comment on the struggles faced by countless of married couples nor can I assume every marriage is like that of my parents. I know it’s not because my parents NEVER fight. I take it back, there was only one argument in their 33 years of marriage that I can recall like it was yesterday and it was over something silly and for a thirteen year old to witness that, I thought for sure this would mean divorce. Every marriage has their secrets and while Nick and Amy may seem like the perfect couple, they really aren’t. Add to the mix people’s own personalities and history and you get something scary. She’s not the first to bring up hidden facets of people; hey if we were all truthful you wouldn’t see shows like, Who the Bleep Did I Marry? on Investigation Discovery. Truth is we all present different fronts and we’ve been doing so since we were children. Nick and Amy are no different from you and me, and yet when we read their story we can’t help but wonder “why?” and “what went wrong?” Flynn presents us with those issues and how many of us can see our friends (or maybe ourselves) in her descriptions of married couples or the way our life is now?

One particular quote I really like sums up the people I do know who are in this type of relationship, “Don’t land me in one of those relationships where we’re always pecking at each other, disguising insults as jokes, rolling our eyes and ‘playfully’ scrapping in front of our friends, hoping to lure them to our side of an argument they could not care less about. Those awful if only relationships: This marriage would be great if only… and you sense the if only list is a lot longer than either of them realizes.” Now don’t think because you’re single, Flynn doesn’t touch that subject. She does and in a way that makes us all say, “oh yes.” How many of us have molded ourselves to be liked by a potential mate? Perhaps lied a little about liking something or being interested in a hobby you have no idea about? As Flynn points out, “Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl. Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men — friends, coworkers, strangers — giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them.” In the end, “Can you imagine, finally showing your true self to your spouse, your soul mate, and having him not like you?” Isn’t that what we worry about? That those who truly love us, don’t see US and if they knew who we really were, they’d hate us?

I debated with the rating and I would have given it a solid five if a lot of my questions were answered and they weren’t; I know an author can’t foresee all the questions a reader has in order to address them because we all are different and what’s important to me isn’t to you. I also understand why some people have problems with the ending, but I, myself, loved it. The great thing about reading is we, the readers, can imagine what happened afterwards. For example, I like to imagine the perfect ending for Gone With the Wind, and I like to think Scarlett learned to live without Rhett and when he did come back (because let’s face it in my ending HE does) she’s ready to love as a grown woman should be able to after he grovels for a bit (okay a long while). As for Gone Girl and the ending, it’s not perfect, but it is the right ending for these two characters. Nick finally grows up and realizes that he has to be open with Amy or as much as he can put out there and as for Amy, she has to live with knowing others know her secret. What’s worse, living with the possibility of “this could be it,” and not knowing when the end is near or making the best of the situation at hand?

In a perfect world, the villain gets his due and everyone lives happily ever after, but in the real world, sometimes bad people do go free and live among us. That’s what Flynn reminds us.