Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dark and nasty, but oh so good

I imagine that, at one point or another, most people have experienced the terrible feelings of wrong and hopelessness that come late at night when you cannot you sleep. When dawn comes, a more measured view takes hold. The main character, and in fact most of the characters, in Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects lives permanently in that state. Rejected by her cold, cruel patrician mother in favor of her dead sister and her eventual much younger sibling, Camille is a bundle of neuroses. Her relationship to sex is particularly troubling and it complicates the task that brings her back to her small town Missouri home after years of self imposed exile.

Her editor sends her back to write a story about two girls, one dead and one missing. Camille reluctantly agrees and soon finds herself in combat with her mother, the local police and her former friends. Her hometown's wealthy cattily stalk one another and trample on the weak, all done with smiles. The younger generation is just as bad. Camille's younger sister leads the bullying popular pack of girls that torment the rest of the town's children.

It's the writing and the depiction of the evils of how people treat one another that make the book shine. There is a mystery at the heart of the story, but the end isn't much of a shocker. Like Camille we watch the everday and not-so everyday horrors inflicted by those that can do it, whether parents, friends or neighbors. This one isn't for the whodunit reader, who will be disappointed and potentially repelled, but for those who want a look into damaged lives and communities.


christina said...

This is actually one of my favorite books. She just published a new book and cannot wait to get my hands on!

Tripp said...


I have heard that her new one is excellent. I can't wait either!