My favorite book this year was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I won’t even bother describing its plot (but, okay: man’s wife goes missing, he’s accused of murdering her, did he?, etc.). You’ve already read it, or you’ve been meaning to, or you just want everyone to stop talking about it already! But what can I do? It’s not my fault that the most popular girl at the dance is also the coolest and the smartest and the funniest and the sexiest; plus she’s got blood under her fingernails and one helluva snarl: ferocious, seductive, ironic and dark. If you haven’t danced with her already, why not? You aren’t scared, are you?
(This is how I feel when lots of people love a book that I love: giddy, validated, triumphant.)
Call me uncivilized, but, this year, the books I liked best were readable. What I wanted was obsession and total immersion, books that would keep me up nights, that would transform me from woman to prune in the bath, that would allow me to neglect my own writing and work, that would, basically, take over my whole life. Gone Girl met this expectation, and exceeded it. Aside from its clever prose and absolutely badass plot twists, the book engaged deftly with questions of intimacy, identity, and the construction of the female self. Also? It’s a crime novel — but it isn’t at all! Will someone please send me back to college so I can write a paper about this contemporary masterpiece? (Rodney Dangerfield can play me in the movie adaptation of my life.) I’m getting shivers just thinking about it.
After I finished Gone Girl, I read Ms. Flynn’s other two novels — both are terrific — and discussed them with fellow staff writer Janet Potter. Then I sat around, twiddling my thumbs, mourning what I now think of as The End of Flynn. Thankfully, it’s temporary; Ms. Flynn lives and writes in Chicago.
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