Every year a reader can choose from perhaps TEN thousand new, well-written novels, but ONLY A FEW MAY BE privileged. Author name recognition, trendy genres, stellar reviews, or a publisher’s marketing budget often point our interest in one direction or another. Many writers who aren’t household names covet fame and money, but the stories that are born in their minds can’t always be shaped to meet the marketplace (if we even know what that sweet spot is). The author might think that his or her main character or plot has universal appeal, and the writing mechanics are solid, yet every story, every writing style, possesses its own DNA. If your child is born with blue eyes, they can’t be turned to brown. If blue eyes are out of fashion, so be it.
Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl, besides the author’s artful story telling, fascinates us because of the lens she places on Amy’s and Nick’s marriage. How could two seemingly intelligent people end up so quickly (fifth year anniversary) in a listless, duplicitous marriage beyond repair. What did they do wrong? There are many explanations, but what most intrigued me was Nick, who, underneath his charm, seemed so clueless both about what he wanted from a relationship and what Amy wanted. Of course, Gone Girl is a novel whose premium is more on drama than psychological analysis, yet I kept thinking what a great study Nick would have provided for why Men Fall Out of Love. To me, Nick’s self-doubt, narcissism, and suppressed anger reflect the same qualities in Amy. It’s what drew them together and then pulls them apart. She seems to see it and he doesn’t.
Michael R. French
Michael French is a graduate of Stanford University and Northwestern University. He is a businessman and author who divides his time between Santa Barbara, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.