After I finished reading Sharp Objects, I laid in bed and thought about it. And, felt dirty. Then thought about it some more. I was writing the review in my head and had some wonderfully insightful things to say. Now, in the cold harsh light of day, I don’t want to write that review. In fact, a big part of me wants to say “4/5 stars” and just end here…
I’m not going to do that because the book does deserve a little more even though it makes you feel greasy, malevolent and ugly.
Camille comes back to her hometown on a reluctant assignment from her Chicago newspaper editor. Two young girls have been murdered within a year and he wants her to get the scoop.
In past reviews I’ve said that Flynn is a master of the dark side. She creates characters that are compelling yet hateful. Both Gone Girl and Dark Places didn’t have one character that was likable. Sharp Objects isn’t quite so full of sociopaths but it’s close. There are a few people who aren’t completely horrible so there. Everyone else is a nasty piece of work. And she describes them vividly. You feel as if they are standing next to your chair breathing their dank, foul breath onto your cheek. Flynn also writes of unspoken behaviors that, yes, happen in the real world. She lays it all bare and means for you to feel uncomfortable with the knowledge of what goes on behind closed doors.
The atmosphere – I could spend pages writing about her descriptions of places and smells. One example: “When I was still in grammar school, maybe twelve, I wandered into a neighbor boy’s hunting shed, a wood-planked shack where the animals were stripped and split. Ribbons of moist, pink flesh dangled from strings, waiting to be dried for jerky. The dirt floor was rusted with blood. The walls were covered with photographs of naked women. Some of the girls were spreading themselves wide, others were being held down and penetrated. One woman was tied up, her eyes glazed, breasts stretched and veined like grapes, as a man took her from behind. I could smell them all in the thick, gory air.” That was page 15. Feel like going hunting?
I was going to spend some more time talking about bad parenting, mean girls, underage sex, mental illness (cutting, eating disorders, drug addiction) and the plethora of other issues explored in Sharp Objects. But, you know what? I think I’d rather go have a glass of wine, read a sweet book and pet my dogs to remind myself that the world isn’t such a bad place.