Archive for June 10, 2012

Gone Girl, 2

June 10, 2012 Leave a comment

When I wrote about Gillian Flynn’s new thriller Gone Girl last Monday, I hadn’t started reading it. In fact, it wasn’t even available yet, the next day being its publication date. But before bedtime on Monday, I was able to download it to my Kindle, and I began reading it right away.

Tuesday night, I was wondering if I had made a wise reading choice. This probably stems from my over-attachment to the model of a thriller in which there is a sympathetic hero, someone we learn to like, flaws and all. Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, who may in fact have no flaws. Martin Walker’s French police chief Bruno, whom I would love to drop in on and have dinner with some time.

The focus of Gone Girl is a husband and wife in a small Mississippi River town north of St. Louis. The wife disappears; the husband becomes a suspect. That’s not giving much away. The chapters alternate in viewpoint between the two, and alternate in time as well, covering the years before the disappearance and the weeks after. I had been inspired to read the book by Janet Maslin’s NYT review a week earlier, from which I knew it didn’t fit the Reacher-Bruno model. I had figured that would be okay, but the problem was, I wasn’t finding either character a particularly good companion. Did I really want to read a whole book about them?

Slowly I began to realize that Flynn had far more up her sleeve. Halfway through, I was on to something special. The book was transforming into a brilliant, dark comedy. Let’s see. What did Maslin say? That Gone Girl “is wily, mercurial, subtly layered and populated by characters so well imagined that they’re hard to part with.” Yes, exactly. The book is great fun.


Categories: Books

Righteousness and Goodness

June 10, 2012 1 comment

[Mr. Fish cartoon at]

I know, I’ve been pushing this drone theme a lot lately (here and here and here). Maybe I should move on. But really. We have a president who insists it’s okay to shoot missiles at people in countries we’re not at war with just because they’re hanging out in the wrong places. It’s even okay to shoot missiles at people in countries we’re not at war with who are US teenagers with no known history of doing anything wrong. That seems worth calling attention to again and again and again.

Mind you, our use of drones in Pakistan and Yemen is still a government secret, even as Obama administration officials talk about it when doing so suits their purpose of projecting an image of resolve and success in the war against al-Qaeda.

Today we find Representative Peter King (from Long Island, and head of the House’s Committee on Homeland Security), in an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley, explaining that “I can’t officially acknowledge that we have a drone program.” Yet, he goes on to justify their use:

I wish we could all live in a world where we could hold hands and love each other. The fact is, that’s not reality. We have an enemy that wants to kill us. I live in New York. I lost over 150 constituents on 9/11, and if we can save the next 150 by killing al Qaeda terrorists with drones then kill them.

We have to assume that there’s always going to be an increase in weapons. This has been the history of mankind. That’s why we have to make sure our defense budget is not weakened and that we stay ahead of the enemy.

There’s evil people in the world. Drones aren’t evil, people are evil. We are a force of good and we are using those drones to carry out the policy of righteousness and goodness.

What has it come to when one of the most extreme right-wing, Muslim-hating members of Congress so strongly supports Obama’s undeclared drone war? What would King — an ardent supporter of the IRA — have said if the UK used drones a few years back in Belfast neighborhoods where IRA provisionals were known to congregate?

There’s something to be said for democratic processes and the constitution. I prefer the rule of law to a president empowered, in the name of righteousness and goodness, to judge who’s naughty and who’s nice.

Categories: Law, Politics, War