What’s the greatest tool to create suspense? An unreliable narrator, according to Gillian Flynn, who is a master of them if you’ve read Gone Girl. She discussed how to write a good thriller, why she doesn’t believe in guilty pleasure reading, and her ambitious quest to read every Pulitzer Prize-winning novel in chronological order in a New York Times “By the Book” interview. Pair with: Our conversation about Gone Girl.
Amy barely speaks in the trailer for Gone Girl, but she is present in almost every frame. The first look at David Fincher’s adaptation features a creepy cover of “She” and a harried Ben Affleck as he goes from bereaved husband to suspect. The film will be in theaters on October 3, but until then, read our conversation about Gillian Flynn.
David Fincher had Gillian Flynn rewrite the ending of Gone Girl for his film. Flynn herself relished the changes. “There was something thrilling about taking this piece of work that I’d spent about two years painstakingly putting together with all its 8 million Lego pieces and take a hammer to it and bash it apart and reassemble it into a movie,” she said. What would Amy think?
So why is GONE GIRL scary rather than kooky? Primarily the characters’ apparently everyday behavior—their motivations and how they view one another. Amy and Nick do not resemble actual people so much as grotesquely smiling masks driven by forces of extreme artifice, and it’s exactly that extreme artificial quality that’s frightening to the point of sickening.
"Some critics have called Flynn’s portrayals of women misogynist, but to me it seems like she’s just amplifying an attitude that’s shoved in front of us all the time—on TV, online, in countless tabloids, which are constantly informing us that some woman is “humiliated” because her husband “cheated” or because she gained weight or because, after being dumped, she had the nerve to get drunk and dance in public, that is, because she did not have absolute control over herself or the behavior of her man, and is therefore a legitimate object of derision or pity or both."
“Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl may have been the breakout hit of the summer, but those intrigued enough by Flynn’s twisty thriller to read her other work will find that as good as Gone Girl is, her two earlier novels, Sharp Objects and Dark Places, are even better.”
[Gillian] Flynn is especially good at creating damaged, dangerous women whose deeply imagined inner lives break your heart even as the characters create havoc in the lives of the people around them.
"My favorite book this year was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I won’t even bother describing its plot (but, okay: man’s wife goes missing, he’s accused of murdering her, did he?, etc.). You’ve already read it, or you’ve been meaning to, or you just want everyone to stop talking about it already! But what can I do? It’s not my fault that the most popular girl at the dance is also the coolest and the smartest and the funniest and the sexiest; plus she’s got blood under her fingernails and one helluva snarl: ferocious, seductive, ironic and dark. If you haven’t danced with her already, why not? You aren’t scared, are you?”
I can’t remember a better year of reading. I particularly enjoyed books where women or girls were allowed to be dark and dangerous and fucked up and ‘unlikable.’