Monday, October 29, 2012

Staff Pick: Gone Girl

Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn’s third novel, the chilling and compellingly readable Gone Girl, is told from two perspectives, husband and wife Nick Dunne and Amy Elliot Dunne. We are first introduced to Nick Dunne, a man whose wife has just gone missing on a hot July day, a day which also happens to be their fifth wedding anniversary. Nick returns from the bar he owns to find the house in disarray and no Amy. Eerily enough, there is the first clue to her annual anniversary treasure hunt. He calls the police and begins the bizarre chain of events that will change his life and the lives of those around him.

 In the next chapter we meet Amy, the happy, full-of-love Amy, the Amy from five years ago. We see Amy and Nick meet and fall in love, kissing for the first time in a cloud of powdered sugar outside of a bakery. As the viewpoint flips back and forth between Nick and Amy and between timelines, a marriage is born and a marriage begins to disintegrate.

Flynn throws in twists and manipulations, zigs and zags. Masks are torn off and true colors emerge. Loyalties falter, and the reader will find their sympathies turning. Did Nick do it? The police seem to think so. If not Nick, who wanted Amy dead? The clues to her treasure hunt are wrapped in mystery. Nick tries to unravel the clues as his own life quickly unravels, with the people around him beginning to suspect him of the unthinkable.  

Flynn’s descriptive prose paints flawed, believable characters in unbelievable situations, and her tight pacing will keep one flipping the pages to the final brutal conclusion.  Gone Girl is an intense psychological thriller that is hard to put down.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Staff Pick: Driving Mr. Yogi

Driving Mr. Yogi:  Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry, and Baseball's Greatest Gift
Harvey Araton

I caught the last few minutes of the Charlie Rose television show which featured an interview of former Yankees baseball pitcher, Ron Guidry, and former Yankees catcher, Yogi Berra. Their discussion about this book made me want to read it.  The love between these two baseball players was evident, and this book defines that relationship.  The devoted care Guidry provided for the elderly Berra during Berra's visits to the Yankees' Spring Training in Florida was appreciated by the Hall of Famer.  Many baseball stories are told, and some will cause chuckles.  The not-so-funny relationship between the New York Yankees Baseball Team owner, George Steinbrenner, and Berra is presented, along with their reconciliation.  Some of Yogi's mentoring accomplishments and Guidry's achievements are acknowledged without a lot of baseball statistics.  Of course, the Louisiana connections with Guidry's frog legs dish and his family members bring pride to Louisiana readers knowing that Berra could not have had a better companion during Yankees Spring Training.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Central Book Club: Can't Wait to Get to Heaven

Can't Wait to Get to Heaven
by Fannie Flagg

When the sting of a wasp sends Elner Shimfissle falling out of her fig tree, she is suddenly whisked away to a heaven where squirrels are polka dotted, her deceased sister is annoyed that they had her hair and makeup done wrong for her funeral, and God is willing to answer a few questions she has been wanting the answer to forever. (By the way, the chicken came first.) Believing she has passed on,  Elner's family and friends back home each reminisce about their dear friend and the impact she's had on their lives as they prepare for her funeral. But Elner's time is not up and she is sent back to Elmwood Springs, MO to tell everyone that heaven is your life; in the friends you have and the people you love.

For someone who grew up in a small town, Fannie Flagg's novels always feel a bit like coming home. Though her small town may be a little more idyllic than the one you remember. Through each character, Flagg is showing the reader the qualities she values most in a community. Flagg can't even stand to leave the characters with less desirable traits alone, having most of them turn their life around due to some contact with  the force of nature Elner Shimfissle. Recommended to those needing a change of pace in their reading to something that feels homey.