GONE GIRL, by Gillian Flynn

GIVE ME YOUR HAND, by Megan Abbott

That's right, I read three - count 'em - three books in 2019, which I would normally consider shameful. What I was reading instead, over and over, was the novel I started writing in January, and "finished" around Thanksgiving. I didn't have any room in my brain for someone else's story, although I realized at the end of the year after devouring the last two books on the above list, that someone else's story might have freshened up my perspective on my own. And by the end of the year, boy, could I have used a fresh perspective.


I chose GONE GIRL because writing a crime novel for publication without having read GONE GIRL seemed like a basic lack of preparation. I see GONE GIRL referenced on countless agent manuscript wishlists and writer comps. I'm not one of those jerks who disdains something simply because it's popular. I do, however, get tired of the bandwagon that automatically trails a popular book. Everyone wants the next GONE GIRL. Everyone says they're writing the next GONE GIRL. Books are undoubtedly going to get signed not because they are good, but because they bear a passing resemblance to GONE GIRL. GONE GIRL is great. Brilliant, stunning prose; meticulous plotting; convincing, surprising voices. The question that hovered over me as I drew close to the end was: how is she going to make both of these assholes lose? And she did it, in a way that I completely bought. Amazing. So yeah, GONE GIRL deserves all its praise. I just get a little tired of its marketing wake. 

GIVE ME YOUR HAND is less tricky, plot-wise, than GONE GIRL, but interesting to me because of its voice and focus on girls in a dying town trying to make something of themselves. Megan Abbott writes in a universe familiar and fascinating to me. If you're watching the DARE ME series, you'll see a pretty good representation of that universe. 

BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD I read at the beginning of the year and barely remember, but for a good reason. It was such an engaging, suspenseful read that I devoured it whole, forgetting to slow down and take a listen to the writing. The writing is excellent. The previous year I went on an Attica Locke binge, which I recommend whole-heartedly. I'm excited to see that a sequel to BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD is out.