The Spanish publisher and editor Jacobo Siruela says he doesn’t like young writers because all of them write as if you were watching an American movie.
Today, novels are written as movies and if the first five pages don’t have enough drama or action to grab you, the book is out. The market is wild and publishers want immediate conflict and huge hooks to hold the reader, who at any point may throw the book away and watch Netflix or see a short coming from Beavis and Butthead’s brains in YouTube.
Gone Girl, a novel by Gillian Flynn is a well crafted thriller plagued with more twists that it needs and a weak ending where the bad guys prevail. But it is also a light and easy reading. A good best-seller.
And so I thought: “Hum, I haven’t read anything like that? Innocent or aggressive publicity for a best-seller?”
Critics from Salon.com, The Huffington Post, and Entertainment Weekly pose the novel as literary fiction. I have serious doubts in thinking of Gone Girl as a piece of what Americans call literary fiction. Supposedly, it is literature because it shows fragmented pieces of narrative that fit together at the end while introducing different narrators, which are deceitful.
Want to read a literary novel with a bunch of doubtful narrators? Go grab My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk. Want another with an unreliable narrator (written originally in English)? Get the Third Policeman from Flan O’Brien.
In Gone Girl the narrators are traitors, but they do not deceive the reader. The narrators are totally 100% reliable, they say true stuff. It’s different to portray a character that betrays other fictional characters than having a narrator hiding information to the reader on purpose and making the reader think at the end about the validity of his word throughout the whole story. That doesn’t happen in Gone Girl, you can trust the characters. They are deceitful for other characters, but not for you, the reader. You won’t end the novel doubting if Amy and Nick are good or evil of if they really did what they did for love or lust. You’ll know both of them are human beings capable of betraying whoever they meet, that’s it.
The bookstore was right about Gone Girl: “You have not read anything like this…” because it isn’t a book, a novel, it was thought and designed, as Jacobo Siruela says, as a screenplay, Gone Girl is a TV series —not even a movie. Each chapter was built as a TV chapter of 40 minutes, it would be better seen every Thursday on screen than read on paper. The tension and the fun would arise slowly with weekly chapters and the twists it has are enough for at least four seasons.
I wish Reese Whiterspoon god luck in taking Gone Girl it to the movies next year, but I still think it would make a better sitcom than a film.