‘Gone Girl’ quotes

‘When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with. The very first time I saw her, it was the back of the head I saw, and there was something lovely about it, the angles of it. Like a shiny, hard corn kernel or a riverbed fossil. She had what the Victorians would call a finely shaped head. You could imagine the skull quite easily. I’d know her head anywhere. And what’s inside it. I think of that, too: her mind. Her brain, all those coils, and her thoughts shuttling through those coils like fast, frantic centipedes. Like a child, I picture opening her skull, unspooling her brain and sifting through it, trying to catch and pin down her thoughts. What are you thinking, Amy? The question I’ve asked most often during our marriage, if not out loud, if not to the person who could answer. I suppose these questions stormcloud over every marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?’ [Page 3]


‘I’d arrived in New York in the late ‘90s, the last gasp of the glory days, although no one knew it then. New York was packed with writers, real writers, because there were magazines, real magazines, loads of them. This was back when the Internet was still some exotic pet kept in the corner of the publishing world – throw some kibble at it, watch it dance on its little leash, oh quite cute, it definitely won’t kill us in the night.’ [Page 4]


‘It’s a very female thing, isn’t it, to take one boys’ night and snowball it into a marital infidelity that will destroy our marriage?’ [Page 65]


‘The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can’t anymore. I don’t know that we are actually human at this point, those of us who are like most of us, who grew up with TV and movies and now the Internet. If we are betrayed, we know the words to say; when a loved one dies, we know the words to say. If we want to play the stud or the smart-ass or the fool, we know the words to say. We are all working from the same dog-eared script.’ [Page 68]


‘It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless automat of characters. And if all of us are play-acting, there can be no such thing as a soul mate, because we don’t have genuine souls. It had gotten to the point where it seemed like nothing matters, because I’m not a real person and neither is anyone else. I would have done anything to feel real again.’ [Page 69]


‘I almost cried, I’d been so lonely. To be kissed on the lips by your husband is the most decadent thing.’ [Page 161]


‘I’d fallen in love with Amy because I was the ultimate Nick with her. Loving her made me superhuman, it made me feel alive. At her easiest, she was hard, because her brain was always working, working, working – I had to exert myself just to keep pace with her. I’s spend an hour crafting a casual e-mail to her, I became a student of arcana so I could keep her interested: the Lake Poets, the code duello, the French Revolution. Her mind was both wide and deep, and I got smarter being with her. And more considerate, and more active, and more alive, and almost electric, because for Amy, love was like drugs or booze or porn: There was no plateau. Each exposure needed to be more intense than the last to achieve the same result. Amy made me believe I was exceptional, that I was up to her level of play. That was both our making and our undoing. Because I couldn’t handle the demands of greatness. I began craving ease and averageness, and I hated myself for it. I turned her into the brittle, prickly thing she became. I had pretended to be one kind of man and revealed myself to be quite another. Worse, I convinced myself our tragedy was entirely her making. I spent years working myself into the very thing I swore she was: a righteous ball of hate.’ [page 202]


‘[…] the Cool Girl. Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl. Men actually think this girl exists.’ [page 210]


‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl image


[E-book. First published 2012]


This is one of the most exciting and cleverly-written books I have read this year. Nick and Amy lose their jobs in New York and decide to return to Nick’s hometown in small-town America to care for his ailing parents. On their wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing and all the clues lead to Nick being behind her disappearance and possible violent attack, but did he actually do it?


The narrative switches between Nick and Amy’s perspectives, making readers form their own opinions as they go.


‘Gone Girl’ is shattering. My advice is that, if you are about to get married, rather delay reading this book until you are happily established. It is terrifying; revealing true issues in (rather scarily) a very identifiable way. I found myself flinching at some familiar thoughts I would rather not have related to during the course of the novel, but that is half of its genius.


More than anything, it is an astute novel about degeneration – those elements of our daily lives that destroy things we once considered paramount. It questions our fidelities, the reasons for our choices, and often left me cold at the outcome in Nick and Amy’s lives. It is also an examination of the role of the media in modern justice.


‘Gone Girl’ makes for ideal holiday reading with a good pace and tremors of shock that reverberate throughout the novel. I found it so utterly devastating that I couldn’t read for a few days after finishing it.

A Floating Life by Tad Crawford

A Floating Life image


[E-book. Published in 2012 by Arcade Publishing]


I picked up this book solely on the pretext that it combines the styles of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Haruki Murakami to become an astounding work of magical realism. ‘A Floating Life’ reminded me a lot of ‘Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World’ in many respects, but I failed to see Gabriel Garcia Marquez in this work.


This unnamed narrator flits between scenarios in a haze of amnesiac confusion. The desire to change jobs, a wife who has left him, dealing with erectile dysfunction in the throes of middle age all come to the fore.


Perhaps this is simply not the style of book I am used to reading, but I failed to really see or feel the common, underlying link that brought the story together. No matter how much I wrack my brain, I am overwhelmed by how disorientating the storyline became. The alleged genius of the book is lost on me. I am, however, always hesitant to publish a negative review on someone’s work. At no point in the book did I consider putting it down, conquered by it. There are some really lovely elements to it, the messages and images that endure through the confusion that make me truly glad I persevered to the end – the very unique depiction of the brevity of life, regret, tenacity, survival. The image of the model ship shop, The Floating World, and his interactions with Pecheur were powerful and moving.


And so I walk away from this novel with some very fond thoughts on certain elements. Maybe I just didn’t get it…

How to Think More About Sex by Alain de Botton

How to Think More about Sex image

[E-book. First published 2012]

Alain de Botton has long been one of my favourite writers for one simple reason – his wisdom and the ability to impart it in such a readable way. I have been reading his books since I was 16 and they have taught me more about life than any self-help guide.

‘The School of Life’ (www.schooloflife.com) is de Botton’s programme designed to teach us (members of the human race) on how to live our best lives. It is an offering of ideas that, on practical application, can help us to live a little more comfortably in an essentially confusing world. These ideas cover the realms of relationships, work, and our daily frustrations.

‘How to Think More about Sex’ was a very interesting read in that, ideologically, sex has withstood the changing attitudes and mores of the ages more than most topics. Over time, this natural act has gone from being suppressed and smeared by religion and convention (most often as an act of shame and mere procreation) to being one of our greatest commodities and an object of revolution.  Unsurprisingly, amidst ever-changing public sentiment, it is a subject most 21st century humans continue to grapple with. How are we supposed to feel about sex? In what ways can we meaningfully think about sex? After all of these centuries of debate, what is a “normal” way to think about sex? This thought-provoking book, if nothing else, will make you address the issues raised around sex and how you feel about them.

I enjoyed this book for the same reason as I have always enjoyed de Botton’s work – it got me thinking and, for the most part, I agreed with what he has written. The book very cleverly deals with issues of attraction (biologically-speaking, as well as psychologically), desire, lust, pornography, fetishes, love and commitment in one book – a slim-line version of the leviathan work he could have produced on these issues, I am sure.

I have no doubt that the topic of sex and how it is viewed in societies will be subject to yet more change over the next hundred years. As the source of confusion and pain (as well as pleasure and joy) to all of us, I would encourage anyone to read this book as an exercise in assessing how you think and feel about sex. Who knows, it could be revealing.