By Gillian Flynn
Yet another “rave-review” writer that is (or was) no novice to the literary world. A writer for screens, pages, comic books and a critic herself, the lady has it on lockdown. I could even mention the best-selling Gone Girl that’s been adapted to the big screen, but there are two reasons I’m not going down that road. Firstly, I haven’t read it! *Looks down at nervously shifting feet while undecided as to whether or not to pocket my hands*. I do own a copy, however, so it is on my list– resume breathing– Secondly, I’m not a huge fan of the tailgating, PR approach with books. I like to look at each book I’m having a torrid affair with as an individual. A wondrous piece in its own right. I strongly suggest you try this yourselves good people of the bookery. There will inevitably be comparisons or similarities you’ll pick up on, but don’t let that distract your appreciation of what might be your next love. Yes, I said next, not “one true”. Ya’ll know why…
So, back this little bitty then. As you can see, it’s a slim Jim, a shortie. But it does pack a punch. It punches you pretty much from the get-go describing a childhood hustling with mother, her slip into casual sex-work and graduation to faux-psychic. Oh, the ‘her’ is the unnamed narrator who is our focaliser. We are her eyes and ears and in places, her unfortunate nose. Not that it’s unsightly (I mean, who knows?) but that the poignant writing techniches give you a visceral reaction to the smells of puke and bad breath.
For our more seasoned crime reader (fiction or non) booksters, there are hints and props they’re likely to pick up on. Things that stick in your craw just a little bit that you know you haven’t seen the last of. You know, the “things you may later rely on” sort of stuff. But if you’re not as accustomed to twitching your Poirot tasche and walking with a penny between your butt cheeks, you’ll revel in the emergence of the plot twists and turns with the added luxury of genuine shock. It isn’t an open and shut case, but then, not a lot of stories are depending on your reading. But it’s worth mentioning that it is left to you, the reader, to decide what the truth is. If you aren’t a big fan of open ended non-finishers then this might not be for you. On the other hand, if you like the whole “What Would You Do?” thing (incidentally the original title of this story originally printed in an anthology which I also played on so originally), you’ll have spent your time well. Actually, even if you do prefer closure, it’s still worth a read purely for the physical suspense and second guessing you find yourself doing. This mimicry of the the narrators own self-doubt, self-awareness limbo is a great experience.
As you know, I’m all about characters. They are my first love in any piece of work which I cannot pretend doesn’t skew my opinion at times. But they have to be bloody well written to do that and in this case, Susan Burke and Miles are pretty awesome. I say that, but you have to remember, the deliniation we get of these two is what and how the first person narrator observes. We are looking at very specific and therefore limited characters. A limited perspective in conjunction with limited space (the story is 79 pages in the above copy), it is amazing that these characters are as riveting as they are in my opinion. And that is the beaty of a short isn’t it? The sheer amount of opinions you’ll get out of something so rapid is where it’s at.
Give it a go, I say, there’s no real risk of a long term loss here folks!
Have you read it? What do you think?