I'm not very good at keeping up with the latest books; thus I'm just now getting around to a best seller of 2012, "Gone Girl," by Gillian Flynn. Urged by a friend to read it, I just finished this morning, both amazed and appalled by what it takes these days to make it to the best seller charts. In the Forties ( yes, I was alive then!) titles like "I Married a Killer" were most likely to appear in pulp "crime" magazines rather than the book pages of The New York Times. No more. Of course a more apt title for today like "I Married a Socio/Psychopathic Killer," would not necessarily be understood in the Forties--people were considered sane or insane in those days and mostly talked about in those terms. Nowadays there are so many shades of gray, fifty to be exact, that any amount of variation can be talked or written about.
So it is with Amy Dunne, the female protagonist and the "gone girl" of the title. Flynn's highly suspenseful book is about a marriage gone wrong and a disappearance gone--well to hell in a hand-basket, and then some. The story is consistently and uniformly told from two points of view--Amy's, and her befuddled, confused, angered and finally frightened husband's, Nick Dunne. A movie is forthcoming, and it should make a good one, for the book has all the elements of a major hit: mystery, murder, self-mutilation, sex, nudity, cops and robbers, offensive language to the extreme, etc. etc. (Will the public ever get enough of this? The answer is apparently a resounding NO!)
Not to suggest that this is nothing more than a formulaic novel--far from it. In plotting and structure it's nothing short of ingenious. And Amy Dunne is a character worthy of the tradition of Edgar Allan Poe--a bizarre embodiment of the evil genius wrapped up in a very attractive package that is, of all things--female.
The reversal of the typical role relationship -- the wife caught in the grips of a fiendish husband (think Bluebeard's Castle) -- is in its way quite brilliant, as is the author's ability to almost win the reader to Amy's point of view against her dolt of a husband, until, until, well...you know if you've read it, and if you haven't...
Is this book pure escapism, or does it simply go to the extreme to illustrate a prevailing female viewpoint that men are stupid pigs who have to be fattened and then led to the ultimate slaughter? As one of the stupid pigs, I'm really not sure. All I can say for certain is that if you are contemplating marriage to someone you are not sure you really know, then forget it and run like--you know what!