Jessie Raymond: Finishing book before she’s ‘Gone’
I finally did it: I read a whole book in less time than it takes a pint of half-and-half to go bad in my fridge.
I’m not a slow reader, by any means. It’s just that I only read at bedtime, and reading puts me to sleep. Fast. On a typical night, I spend more time trying to find what page I was on when I dozed off the night before than I do actually reading new material. If I manage to net three paragraphs before the book slips out of my hands and crashes to the floor or onto my face, I consider that a productive night.
I usually gravitate toward traditional murder mysteries, but nothing cutesy. (While chocolate and knitting are two of my favorite things in real life, I avoid books that reference either of them in the title.) But this time I was reading the bestselling thriller “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. I’d been meaning to get to it for over a year — or, three books ago — but I didn’t feel a sense of urgency until it was made into a major motion picture and released this fall.
Apparently the story was so filled with plot twists that reviewers couldn’t talk about it without immediately launching into “spoilers,” the bane of those of us who like a good surprise. I needed to read the book, and fast, before some loose-lipped moviegoer ruined it for me.
The story opens with a husband coming home to discover that his beautiful wife of five years has gone missing under suspicious and violent circumstances. But does he know more than he is letting on?
I had no idea. But I wanted to find out on my own.
It wasn’t easy. Each night, I’d get through a page or two, hoping that I could make it to a twist before I heard about it on the street. I turned off the radio and skipped my usual podcasts, which had abandoned all interest in politics and science in favor of analyzing “Gone Girl” spoilers.
At work I cringed every time someone burst in to talk about their night at the movies. “Trust me, you will not seethatcoming,” they’d say, while I stuck my head in the copier and pressed “Start” to drown out the details.
I had to read faster. But how?
Luckily, fate stepped in twice. The first time, the dog had tummy troubles in the middle of the night and needed to go out. While he squatted on the lawn and flipped through back issues of Sports Illustrated, I read “Gone Girl.” Back in bed, I made it through a whole chapter before the book conked me on the bridge of the nose. Progress.
The next night was even better. Around midnight, we were jangled out of a sound sleep by an alarming and insistent rapping on the front door — enhanced by the dog’s frantic barking. We staggered around the bedroom in a disoriented panic looking for clothes and trying to figure out why there were blue lights in our driveway. Were we being arrested for turning on the heat without yet putting down all of our storm windows?
It turned out to be nothing that reprehensible. The cops just wanted to let us know that our cows were out jaywalking on Foote Street. While my husband headed out to corral them, I rode the police-at-the-door adrenaline rush, which left my heart pounding for hours. (I’m pretty sure if I were a wanted criminal, I’d have no trouble staying up to read.)
The excitement was just what I needed. Wide awake, I read until dawn and finished the book, spoiler-free. The story did not disappoint.
I’m onto a new (chocolate- and knitting-free) mystery now, but I’ve lost the motivation that I had with “Gone Girl.” The dog hasn’t had any late-night gastric emergencies and the cops haven’t dropped by in days, which means I’ll probably be working on this one right through the holidays.
However, “Gone Girl” is fresh in my mind. I’m still trying to digest how it manipulated my expectations and surprised me time after time.
I’m dying to talk about it.
I won’t say any more than that. But if you’re planning to read or see “Gone Girl” and you run into me on the street, I suggest you find the nearest copier and stick your head in it.
It may take me months to read a whole book, but I can’t keep a secret for more than a day or two.
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