15 December 2012

Two books about unusual women

Five days of holiday. Three separate car trips of four hours each. Four provinces. Four cities. Insufficient reading time. And two books. One: among the top five pieces of trashy, self-serving, barely literate piles of drivel I've read in my lifetime. The other: so brilliant I can't stop thinking about it.

The first is Loui Fish's Walking in my Choos. It's hogwash. Fascinating, sensationalist, poorly translated hogwash. It is peppered with typos, missing a few critical editorial items (like attribution for the foreword) and profoundly lacking in class... but I read it twice. And loved every minute of it.

I knew little or nothing about Loui Fish a week ago, other than that she's the ex-wife of local footballer and (supposed) hunk Mark Fish. I've spotted her in Heat, draped over this or that young buck and showing lots of booby, and I thought she was pretty. If you like that sort of thing. But I had no real idea of the shenanigans - the drugs, affairs, criminals, drama, mutually assured destruction and other chaos - that accompany celeb living.

And if I had the inside track, as Loui does, I'd be too skaam to tell anyone.

Her ex must want to murder her. He, fellow sportsman James Small, and a cast of other local bigwigs come off looking like a bunch of coke-addled miscreants, and the laughingly recited tale of how little Luke Fish tried to loosen his dad's girlfriend's tires is terrifying in the least. Oy. Those poor kids.

So if, like me, you love reading trash and you get off on knowing who's done what to whom and for what bizarre reasons, and you particularly enjoy stories about people you may spot in Tasha's, this book is divine holiday reading. But wrap the cover in brown paper, for God's sake, because I'd be more embarrassed to be caught reading this than I would 50 Shades of Grey, or even Twilight. Yeesh.

Number 2 Holiday Book is Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, and it's possible I am the last bookworm on earth to have discovered it. Those in the know have been raving for ages, and I've been ignoring them. The blurb simply doesn't do this novel justice. That's my defense.

Anyway, here's my take on it:

The story is genius. The writing is magnificent. The characters are utterly believable. The twists and turns are many. The dialogue and internal dialogue are insightful.

In short, it's a winner - reminding me a lot of a book I adored about ten years back: The Drowning People, by (I think) Richard Mason. There's also a lot of Wally Lamb, Lionel Shriver and Joanne Harris in Flynn's style, and I really like all three.

Here's what some others have said:
Gone Girl is one of the best—and most frightening—portraits of psychopathy I've ever read. Nick and Amy manipulate each other—with savage, merciless and often darkly witty dexterity. This is a wonderful and terrifying book about how the happy surface normality and the underlying darkness can become too closely interwoven to separate. - Tana French, New York Times bestselling author of Faithful Place and Into the Woods 
Gone Girl builds on the extraordinary achievements of Gillian Flynn's first two books and delivers the reader into the claustrophobic world of a failing marriage. We all know the story, right? Beautiful wife disappears; husband doesn't seem as distraught as he should be under the circumstances. But Flynn takes this sturdy trope of the 24-hour news cycle and turns it inside out, providing a devastating portrait of a marriage and a timely, cautionary tale about an age in which everyone's dreams seem to be imploding - Laura Lippman, New York Times bestselling author of The Most Dangerous Thing and I’d Know You Anywhere
Gillian Flynn's first two books, Sharp Edges and Dark Places, are already on my Kindle. Yay!