Monday, October 19, 2015

Monday Excerpt: Might-Have-Been

Now Playing: Marius Furche - Mad World (cover in Sense8 soundtrack)


Because we're getting closer to Halloween, I figured these next Monday Excerpts should come from frightening books. Or at least, dark books.

I'm not really sure what I think about Gillian Flynn yet. She has some really interesting set-ups but people seem to be a bit divided when it comes to the second half of her stories. I was split with this particular book, unsure if it had taken a clever turn or one that asked me to suspend my disbelief way too much. There's some problematic shit in both this and Gone Girl (mostly involving her handling of rape accusations and the somewhat disgusting misinterpretations involving them), but there's also some admirable things in her books. From what I've seen so far, Flynn has very brutal, very realistic prose, and all her characters have distinct voices so her dialogue tends to be pretty good. That's mostly what I'm showcasing here.

Some spoilers here. This takes place a little after the halfway point of the book.

I had one of my awful visions. A might-have-been vision. Us, if everyone had lived, at home in Kinnakee. There's Michelle in the living room, still fiddling with her oversized glasses, bossing around a bundle of kids who roll their eyes at her but do what they're told. Debby, chubby and chattery with a big, blond farmer-husband and a special room in her own farmhouse for crafts, packed with sewing ribbons and quilting patches and glue guns. My mom, ripe-fifties and sunbaggy, her hair mostly white, still bickering pleasantly with Diane. And into the room comes Ben's kid, a daughter, a redhead, a girl in her twenties, thin and assured, bangly bracelets on delicate wrists, a college graduate who doesn't take any of us seriously. A Day girl. 
I choked on my own spit, started coughing, my windpipe shut down. The visitor two booths down from me leaned out to look and then, deciding I wasn't going to die, went back to her son. 
"What happened that night, Ben? I need to know. I just need to know." 
"Libby, you can't win this game. I tell you I'm innocent, that means you're guilty, you ruined my life. I tell you I'm guilty...I don't think that makes you feel much better, does it?" 
He was right. It was one reason I'd stayed immobile for so many years. I threw something else out: "And what about Trey Teepano?" 
"Trey Teepano." 
"I know he was a bookie, and that he was into Devil shit, and that he was a friend of yours, and he was with you that night. With Diondra. That all seems pretty fucked up." 
"Where'd you get all that?" Ben looked me in the eye, then raised his gaze up, gave a long stare at my red roots that were to my ears now. 
"Dad told me. He said he owed Trey Teepano money and-" 
"Dad? He's Dad now?" 
"Runner said-" 
"Runner said fuck-all. You need to grow up, Libby. You need to pick a side. You can spend the rest of your life trying to figure out what happened, trying to reason. Or you can just trust yourself. Pick a side. Be on mine. It's better."
- Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

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"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.