And do I really have to explain what a “quality” read is?
There are books that make you a better person—books that, in DFW’s words, are about “what it means to be a fucking human being.” (Here's where you read about my undying love for DFW). And then there are books that tick all the boxes in a writer’s list of tricks—the Insert Suspense Here and Say “Fuck, Fuck” A Few Times and Humanize the Villain—so they read like a reality TV show that’s been scripted for full emotional effect. You come away feeling like someone’s messed with your head, and only for money.
So Nick Dunne gets to be the good-looking Missourian with a tragic backstory for his distrust of the female species (“dumb bitch” is his father’s opening and closing line). In fact, he has such a laid-back Missourian attitude that you’ll be forgiven for thinking, Gee, here’s a B-type personality who just got drowned by his A-type wife’s expectations, poor guy. Next up is Amy Elliott, poster child for every angry feminist out there who “wax-strips their pussy raw” while letting their men “do whatever they want.” She, too, has a fairytale-but-actually-also-tragic childhood that ultimately results in this pissed-off woman who smiles and manipulates and, of course, murders.
It’s the kind of book I’m ashamed to have read. It’s Fifty Shades of Grey, but not so porn-ish that you’ll receive The Eye for carrying the book into Starbucks. It’s The Hunger Games, but for unhappily married adults. It’s the story of cowardice, the stuff of children, and the reason for that definitive line between literary and commercial fiction.