Girl Books and a Couple of Writers with the Right Answers
First, a weasel-ly disclaimer (“Oh, how male of you”). I hear you.
- My wife and some of her closest girlfriends saw Gone Girl and hated it.
- I get it that some of you just don’t like stories, “like that.” I don’t much care for in-depth explorations of 19th century marriageability, a la Jane Austin, either. So I understand that some story criticism may not include the art of the story.
- The following quotes may well be post hoc, writer-ly explanations after having been trained by their reviewers. BTAIM, I think they got the answers right.
Here are the quotes from the NYT article, Gone Girls, Found- Talking with the Authors of “Gone Girl” and “Wild,” by Cara Buckley, Nov 19.
Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl): I’ve been asked that a lot, and to me the answer is always: “Of course, it’s not misogynistic.” Women shouldn’t be expected to only play nurturing, kind caretakers.
Flynn: The likability thing, especially in Hollywood, is a constant conversation, and they’re really underrating their audience when they have that conversation. What I read and what I go to the movies for is not to find a best friend, not to find inspirations, not necessarily for a hero’s journey. It’s to be involved with characters that are maybe incredibly different from me, that may be incredibly bad but that feel authentic.
Cheryl Strayed (Wild): It never occurred to me, not once, that the book would be read as an inspirational tale. I really have no interest in likability when it comes to characters. It’s always about credibility, and to be credible you have to seem human.
I would love to hear a book club discussion, among discriminating readers, about the issues raised by these writers and their reviewers. The issues raised by both women are gut wrenching and more than one reader must see herself (or her former self) in the protagonist. For that matter, more than one reader must see himself.
Writing credibly is an art that can create pain, anger and denial in the reader. So be it.