I was told love should be unconditional. That's the rule, everyone says so. But if love has no boundaries, no limits, no conditions, why should anyone try to do the right thing ever? If I know I am loved no matter what, where is the challenge?
I read this on the heels of reading American Psycho.
Maybe I should just end with that.
Okay to clarify...
Despite the "centipede brain" and the "oily intestines" making me a little queasy in the beginning… Best. Palate. Cleanser. Ever.
If you've read that book (and I seriously hope you haven't) I'm sorry for the mild spoilers for this one but I was full on ready to round this up to 4. The storytelling was inspired, the themes it chose to tackle was interesting and easily relatable (death to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl Stereotype I say. I was not raised to become Zooey Deschanel), the dialogue and the narrative were witty and fresh without taking the purple prose route.
He is a man of a million little fatherly stabs, and my thorns fit perfectly into them.
I mean, jesus.
It had a bit of grit, a lot of grisly study into the psychology of relationships, a lot of clever quips and puns ("He is literally fishy"), twists that draw you further in to the story. I could go on on why this was a brilliant piece of work… from a certain distance. You look a little closely, you see some of the cracks and faulty wiring here and there.
I think I had a bit of disconnect with what I was supposed to take this as. And perhaps that's supposed to be part of its charm, this juxtaposition of heavily realistic issues (the recession, the power of mass media etc.) with comical bungles, near-fantastical turns and reveals… I was just left confused and my emotional investment with my theories on what will happen next, ended up this side of sterile. It all felt off-key. Particularly when I reached the last quarter of the book where I'm being asked to overlook a lot of things to make some sense on the whys and the hows.
Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy how very current the issues this chose to play around with and how very fresh the perspective came across to me. One minute I'm impressed with the deconstruction of society's current ideal girl and in the process possibly making a new ideal through this heroine, the next I'm lamenting the effect of the recession on the male ego yes, let's blame the economy on cheating husbands. Fearless forecast: "The Cool Girl" standard will soon be disposed and derided with the "The Curvy Blonde", "The Working Girl", "The Darla Morgendorfers" in favor of the smart, psychotic and attractive if we haven't yet.
I do appreciate the layered and rich texture Gillian Flynn gave both Amy and Nick, mostly because they gave me a new standard for character complexity in my succeeding reads but also because I also learned that too much richness can get cloying. And dragging. You have to build characters over pages and pages and pages of nuanced conversations, tangential references and dialogues… it can get tedious. And sluggish. This one did. At the expense of the peripheral characters who all came across as two-dimensional plot devices versus the high definition enormity of Nick and Amy (what's the point of 'Go again?). Readers who mind getting manipulated emotionally in so many different ways may not take this book well. Personally, how I felt for the characters before that point didn't waver or change after it. I still hated one and identified with the other.
Despite the drawn out latter chapters, I still cannot deny it was a fun read, along the lines of a Cohen Brothers-style of humor. I think that's the key to enjoying this book: laugh with it while also keeping in mind, how sexy smart and psychotic can be.