I had so much fun with last week’s lyrical alignment (quiet, proper, inner fun, of course) that I’ve gone ahead and cooked up a new one!
This week, I’m taking a passage from Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl, a thriller about a wife gone missing. The excerpt below is from the perspective of the husband as he meditates on the rocky stage he was at spiritually before the disappearance. Of course, he is the prime suspect.
My saying of course above is exactly the kind of sense of expectation the excerpt below riffs on. Given that it is a thriller, I knew I could expect one of a number of plots. There were expectations.
So much of writing is playing in and out of (and through) expectations. Writing is an art whose medium, words, belongs to everyone. Each word carries an expectation, that plays off the next, and so on. What makes a piece of writing more than the words on the page is how well the writer draws the world – your world as well as the world around you – into orbit with what’s happening at the level of language.
What drew me about the novel is how great a sense Flynn has about relationships. I read quickly, at turns rooting for the couple, at times worried.
In an effort to avoid any spoilers, I’ll stop there. Flynn does a solid job.
The Same Dog-eared Script
aligned from Gillian Flynn’s novel “Gone Girl”
For several years, I had been bored. Not a whining,
restless child’s boredom (although I was
not above that) but a dense, blanketing
malaise. It seemed to me that there was nothing
new to be discovered ever again.
Our society was utterly, ruinously
derivative (although the word “derivative”
as a criticism is itself derivative).
We were the first human beings who
would never see anything for the first time.
We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed,
underwhelmed. “Mona Lisa,” the Pyramids,
the Empire State Building. Jungle animals
on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing,
volcanoes erupting. I can’t recall a single
amazing thing I have seen firsthand that I
didn’t immediately reference to a movie
or a TV show. A fucking commercial. You know
the awful singsong of the blase’: “Seeeen it.”
I’ve literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the thing
that makes me want to blow my brains out, is:
the secondhand experience is always better.
The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera
angle and the 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.
p.s. Please check out the latest (and first!) issue of The Merrimack Review, including my poems “Icarus” & “La Esquina,” here.