After looking at my reading record from 2015-2016, no more than 20 books read — a quarter of which I’m sure were attributed to graphic novels, but don’t you dare hold that against me — I realized I obviously was either really unmotivated or hadn’t read anything of substance since I graduated college in 2014. Or both.
Lately, the only writers to stir me out of my reading slump have been Paula Hawkins, Fiona Barton and A.S.A. Harrison. But even their works paled in comparison to the meteoric impact of Gillian Flynn, whose entire canon I burned through in just a matter of a few months, even while finishing up my final year of school.
It all started in February 2014 when my cousin suggested I read Gone Girl, and because she wouldn’t stop talking to me about it I decided to give it a try. I paid $20 for it at a Barnes & Noble, which is $19 more than I’m used to spending on books today. Also, I think it’s important to note the irony of how it never dawned on me that libraries existed back then, even though it became an accidental resting place for a good part of my time at Aquinas College, but I digress.
Despite its hulkiness, I couldn’t pass up the chance at getting it since I knew my cousin would scorn me for it later. And because it was on its way to being adapted to film in the fall, I just had to get on it while the getting was good. So I took it home. And here begins my love affair with Flynn’s books.
Here’s a fun fact about me: Before 2014, I was hardly considered a reader.
In fact, that’s an understatement. I hated everything about reading when I was in college: spending hours burrowing through blocky, hieroglyphic Chaucer every semester; the pretentious language that has more or less permeated today’s literature; and all the fucking pages—goddammit, I hated the page count more than anything else! Some English major I am, huh? Whatever.
The point is I’d never been so committed to a book before Gone Girl. Even after the hundreds of pages of tedious backstory, I refused to put it down. I didn’t think me, of all people, would fall so hard in love over any book, but dammit Flynn is the reason I read.
Night after night, I would keep my cousin abreast on my progress with text messages like, What page do things start getting good? Okay, Nick’s cheating on her and she knows already, is that all this is about?? OMFGGGGG!!! WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED!!
Most would list Shakespearean or Austenian as classics; I’m all about Flynnian
I can’t tell you how many sleepless nights I spent in school ruminating on what the hell happened to Amy Dunne, who would later be my literary heroine, my femme fatale, my spirit warrior (animal?). The way Flynn gives her so much power and patience and poise was fucking incredible, and it made her all the more convincing as a flawed, but dangerously complex character.
While the book itself could easily be explicated as a purview on misandry, misogyny or misogamy—all very fair assessments—I think Gone Girl is made even better as a cautionary tale, from both ends. Amy is no victim in this equation, much like Nick in his own self-made dilemmas. They are both very despicable characters with no motive behind their mistreatment of one another, other than, I guess, to make the other spouse suffer? Even with that, though, there is something so beautiful and tragic and heavy about their breakdown. I’ve yet to read something like it in any other book. Although, I guess if I had to choose a competitor to that trope it would be The Silent Wife.
When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with…Like a child, I picture opening her skull, unspooling her brain and sifting through it, trying to catch and pin down her thoughts. — Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
Ugh, I could go on and on about this book (and I have), but I’m more concerned about the topic at hand…
Where the fuck is Gillian Flynn?!
After reading Gone Girl, I realized Flynn had already published two other books before. I ended up reading her canon in reverse in the summer that same year, around March and April, I think, but I hardly think it had any impact on how I see her as a writer. Sharp Objects and Dark Places were no match for their goliath sibling; in fact, I was really surprised to learn that so many people didn’t see Gone Girl as their favorite.
I mean, Dark Places was just an all-around disappointment for me. I hated Libby and I wanted her to die a swift, ironic, unmeaningful death so many times because she just made too many dumb-ass decisions in trying to uncover the mystery behind her family’s murder. So it’s a no-brainer why it’s my least favorite of Flynn’s work.
Sharp Objects, on the other hand, was a bit more challenging, which I liked. It was satisfying to know that I couldn’t quite pinpoint the culprit, and the surprise twist ending really tied things together much nicer than I expected. My only grudge with that book was that I felt the “sharp objects” concept was a bit overwrought and redundant… We kept hearing about all these new scars the narrator branded herself with throughout the book and it just wouldn’t stop and so it bugged me.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed these books very much but they didn’t have anything on Gone Girl.
Then in 2015, it was announced that Flynn’s short story, The Grownup, initially published in the 2014 Rogues anthology titled “What Do You Do?”, edited by Game of Thrones creator George R. R. Martin, would see publication in November. Of course I snatched it from the nearest book store and devoured it in one-sitting like a vegetarian relapsing on a table of fried chicken. Despite its size, it was definitely nice to be reacquainted with Flynn’s work again.
Since then, however, Flynn has either gone under cover like her titular villain, Amy, or she’s really pacing herself for her next work because it’s been a whole four years since we’ve received another novel from her. Which, in my opinion, is way too fucking long; I can’t stand the anticipation any longer. I’m tired of waiting, Flynn! We need you back now!
While she’s been keeping her name out of the press for some time now, we do have some good news (and bad news) to share.
The Good News: In May 2014, TIME announced Flynn would be enlisted among the many writers—including Margaret Atwood and Anne Tyler—to participate in Penguin Random House Group’s Hogarth Shakespeare series. Which is a publishing initiative set forth to create modern retellings of Shakespeare’s works. Atwood has already released her retelling of The Tempest by way of Hag-Seed and Tyler with Vinegar Girl, a modern spin on The Taming of the Shrew. Flynn is expected to take on Hamlet, however, the name of her reimagination has yet to be revealed.
Ugh. I didn’t mind Shakespeare in college but it was hardly something I expected to read again once I graduated. But if his play is going to be retold by Flynn then I’m going to buy it without hesitation; she’s earned my loyalty at this point. Hell, she could re-write The Holy Bible and I’d devour that thing like it was The Last Supper.
The Bad News: Unfortunately, fans of Flynn will have to wait a pretty long time before the retelling sees the light of day. The series only just began last year, and Flynn’s rework isn’t expected to publish until, and it pains me to say this, 2021!!! [via The Washington Post]
OMG JUST KILL ME, ALREADY!
Seriously, seriously, serioooouuuuusssllly!?! I cannot wait that long for another Flynn book. I’m literally going to be 30 years old by the time her next book releases. Do you know what sort of mental impact that has on my 25-year-old self right now? Like, no! This is bullshit, Flynn! This is total and utter bullshit!
We love you, girl, come back to us! Come back to us this year and don’t ever leave us again! OMG, where the eff is the crying emoji when I need it?! Wait, here it is!!! 😭😭😭😭
This really does suck, you guys. Should we start a petition? We should really start a petition, right? Okay, I’ll start the petition. I’ll start the petition and get a mob of protestors ready to go to Chicago right now! UGHHHHHHH….
How are you managing without Gillian Flynn?
😭 If you have any coping mechanisms, please share them with us below! 😭