Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day of the Dead: Gone Girl and Faithful Place

It being the Day of the Dead (and just after Halloween), I thought it an apropos time for finally posting about Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, which was quite the riveting read, and Faithful Place, by Tana French, which I really enjoyed. I finished both about a month ago (I really need to get back in the habit of reviewing immediately, but I kind of wanted to let both stories sort of seep into my psyche before saying much) so the details are not as fresh in my mind as I'd like, but they both made quite an impact.

Gone Girl is the mother of all unreliable narrator tales, at least for a while. As a reader, you really have to trust the writer, who leaves several holes and clues to follow, but just enough so that you know you're not getting the entire picture, and not so much that you can easily jump to the right conclusions. Is that a spoiler? I'm not sure. Either way, it's definitely worth a read. One of my favorite sections was one of the character's definition of the Cool Girl, which is too long to quote here, but it's spot on.

To break it down for you,

Read Gone Girl if:
  • You want to eat the darkness
  • You ate the darkness years ago
  • You hate predictable tripe
  • Your favorite song is “Psycho Killer” by the Talking Heads
  • You can’t stand Cool Girls
Don't read it if:
  • Your favorite song is “Shiny Happy People” by R.E.M.
  • You read endings first
  • You have to like main characters and must trust your narrators
  • You just got married and are still all gooey-eyed optimistic about your soul mate and your new perfect life together (“Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”)
  • Your favorite flower is a daisy

Now for Faithful Place: I listened to the audio for this one and it was absolutely delightful. The narrator hasn't done too many audiobooks, but he was perfect for this one. No unreliable narrators here, just a nicely paced piece of crime fiction, set in Dublin. Though I'm not entirely sure why, I was very reminded of Dennis Lehane's Mystic River while I read this. It was more related in my mind in setting and tone than in plot, because the stories themselves differed dramatically. 

Listen to (or read) Faithful Place if:
  • You are keen on smart-sounding Irish accents
  • You’re in a cold case kind of mood
  • You’re feeling like winter
  • You are nostalgic about the 80s
  • You have an affinity for Guinness and whisky
  • You like well-rounded characters
Do not listen to (or read) this if:
  • You are afraid of poor people
  • You are looking for a light, amusing read
  • You can't understand Irish accents (it's really not that difficult here)
  • Your favorite sport is synchronized anything
  • You are too impatient to enjoy a good Scotch
  • You are currently planning to elope with your high school sweetheart (it’ll all end in tears)
Have you read either of these? Gone Girls is infinitely discussable, and Faithful Place also has several points to explore. I'd recommend them both, for different reasons, with the caveats mentioned above.

Buenos Dia de los Muertos! 
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