Two novels I read in the last few months were proclaimed by reviewers as “break-through” novels; novels by gifted writers who had so far missed great notoriety. The two authors are Don Winslow (Savages, 2010) and Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl, 2012) and wow, yes, they are very gifted. They also have a firm handle on modern American culture, “cool” and black humor.
I recently finished reading Flynn’s Gone Girl. It’s suspenseful, has a lot of twists and more than a few surprises. I could not stop reading, driven by the appalling truths revealed by Nick Dunne and his wife Amy in the alternating accounts of their married lives. On their fifth anniversary, which starts on a sour note, Amy disappears and Nick is suspected of murdering her. That may seem like an old familiar story – it’s NOT. Flynn’s plot developments are fresh and unexpected.
I had to read Gone Girl. Once I started reading, I could not stop, even though I despised the main characters. Nicely done by Flynn – we hate these people but can’t pull ourselves away from them.
Don Winslow’s novel Savages is not at all like Gone Girl. But his characters are as despicable and Savages is another can’t-put-it-down novel. The setting is Laguna Beach, CA. The very cool twenty-something Southern Cal marijuana producers Ben and Chon, along with their friend O (for Ophelia), drift through life with lots of money, self-indulgence and enviable ease. But the powerful and violent Mexican Baja Cartel decides Ben and Chon’s marijuana should be sold exclusively by the cartel. I could never have guessed what happens.
I read Savages because even two years after its release, it was still highly touted in reviews. And Oliver Stone’s movie version of Savages was due out in theaters. On a separate note, I couldn’t stop reading it, but I could not watch the movie. . . at least not on the big screen. Oliver Stone’s Savages is set for an October 23 release on DVD. It is on order at SCPL so you may place a hold now.
Do I recommend these novels and the other novels by these authors? Yes, if like me, you want to know what is so unique about Winslow and Flynn. You will want to experience them. The down side is. . . well, I dare you to like their characters.