Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn (read in 2015)
Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an interest in this book, then I’m happy for you.
This is the story of Amy, a woman financially privileged from birth, whose parents established their fortune with children’s books about “Amazing Amy”. Amy lives off of a trust fund established by her parents from this fortune. This all has left a mark on Amy. They all live in New York City, where she meets Nick. The book alternates between Amy and Nick’s viewpoints, with Amy’s entries describing an earnest young lady trying her best to deal with a moody man. Nick, on the other hand, describes himself in the same exact way. Various details that become relevant later are mentioned.
They both lose their jobs in New York. Amy’s parents, it turns out, are terrible financial managers and come to Amy, asking for the remainder of her trust fund so that they can pay their bills. With no income and no trust fund, the couple retreats to Nick’s hometown, Missouri, where his sister and father still live. Nick opens a bar with his sister using the last of their money and they settle in, more or less, to life in the Midwest. On their tenth wedding anniversary, though, Amy is gone. There are signs of a struggle.
The first half of the book turns out to have been an exceedingly unreliable telling of their lives and in the second half, we learn what really happened. It’s quite a neat plot, so I’m not going to ruin it for anyone.
“He’s doing what you tell him to do because he doesn’t care enough to argue, I think. Your petty demands simply make him feel superior, or resentful, and someday he will fuck his pretty, young coworker who asks nothing of him, and you will actually be shocked. Give me a man with a little fight in him, a man who calls me on my bullshit. (But who also kind of likes my bullshit.) And yet: 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. So I know I am right not to settle, but it doesn’t make me feel better as my friends pair off and I stay home on Friday night with a bottle of wine and make myself an extravagant meal and tell myself, This is perfect, as if I’m the one dating me. As I go to endless rounds of parties and bar nights, perfumed and sprayed and hopeful, rotating myself around the room like some dubious dessert.”
“I’ve gotten so retro, at one point I will probably use the word pocketbook, shuffling out the door in my swingy tweed coat, my lips painted red, on the way to the beauty parlor.”
“[…] always with autumn colors in the background, as if the school were based not in a town but in a month. October.”
“You are turning me into what I never have been and never wanted to be, a nag, because you are not living up to your end of a very basic compact. Don’t do that, it’s not okay to do.”
“Of course that’s what we have to do, and of course if he had presented the problem to me like I wasn’t his enemy, that’s what I would have said. But he came out of the door already treating me like a problem that needed to be dealt with. I was the bitter voice that needed to be squelched.”
“Do you remember when Insley and her dancing-monkey husband made us come over to admire their baby, and we did the obligatory visit to their strangely perfect, overflowered, overmuffined house for brunch and baby-meeting and they were so self-righteous and patronizing of our childless state, and meanwhile there was their hideous boy, covered in streaks of slobber and stewed carrots and maybe some feces—naked except for a frilly bib and a pair of knitted booties—”
“The building was heavy-hot, almost fuzzy, like the inside of a mattress. Three of us had giant camping flashlights, the glow illuminating jarring images: It was suburbia, post-comet, post-zombie, post-humanity. A set of muddy shopping-cart tracks looped crazily along the white flooring. A raccoon chewed on a dog treat in the entry to a women’s bathroom, his eyes flashing like dimes.”
“My parents’ cherished heirloom looks ridiculous in the new house. But then all our New York stuff does. Our dignified elephant of a chesterfield with its matching baby ottoman sits in the living room looking stunned, as if it got sleep-darted in its natural environment and woke up in this strange new captivity, surrounded by faux-posh carpet and synthetic wood and unveined walls.”
“I have a mistress. Now is the part where I have to tell you I have a mistress and you stop liking me. If you liked me to begin with. I have a pretty, young, very young mistress, and her name is Andie. I know. It’s bad.”
Surprise surprise. And no, we didn’t like you.
“Go jabbed me in the sternum with two hard fingers. “Don’t you fucking pull that with me, Lance. ‘Oh, girls get so overexcited.’ That’s bullshit. You are in a really bad place, my friend. Get your head out of your ass and start helping me fix this.””
“For over a year now, I’ve smelled her twat on his fingertips as he slipped into bed next to me. I’ve watched him ogle himself in the mirror, grooming himself like a horny baboon for their dates. I’ve listened to his lies, lies, lies—from simplistic child’s fibs to elaborate Rube Goldbergian contraptions. I’ve tasted butterscotch on his dry-kiss lips, a cloying flavor that was never there before. I’ve felt the stubble on his cheeks that he knows I don’t like but apparently she does. I’ve suffered betrayal with all five senses. For over”
“And then I’d picture him with her, in her stripper thong, letting him degrade her because she was pretending to be Cool Girl, she was pretending to love blow jobs and football and getting wasted. And I’d think, I am married to an imbecile. I’m married to a man who will always choose that, and when he gets bored with this dumb twat, he’ll just find another girl who is pretending to be that girl, and he’ll never have to do anything hard in his life. Resolve stiffened.”
“Americans like what is easy, and it’s easy to like pregnant women—they’re like ducklings or bunnies or dogs. Still, it baffles me that these self-righteous, self-enthralled waddlers get such special treatment. As if it’s so hard to spread your legs and let a man ejaculate between them. You know what is hard? Faking a pregnancy.”
““You are a man,” I say. “You are an average, lazy, boring, cowardly, woman-fearing man. Without me, that’s what you would have kept on being, ad nauseam. But I made you into something. You were the best man you’ve ever been with me. And you know it. The only time in your life you’ve ever liked yourself was pretending to be someone I might like. Without me? You’re just your dad.””
“Me, Nick Dunne, the man who used to forget so many details, is now the guy who replays conversations to make sure I didn’t offend, to make sure I never hurt her feelings. I write down everything about her day, her likes and dislikes, in case she quizzes me. I am a great husband because I am very afraid she may kill me.”