“You remember those twin statues of the Buddha that I told you about? Carved out of a mountain in Afghanistan, that got dynamited by the Taliban back in the spring? Notice anything familiar?”
"Twin Buddhas, twin towers, interesting coincidence, so what."
"The Trade Center towers were religious too. They stood for what this country worships above everything else, the market, always the holy fucking market."
"A religious beef, you’re saying?"
"It’s not a religion? These are people who believe the Invisible Hand of the Market runs everything. They fight holy wars against competing religions like Marxism. Against all evidence that the world is finite, this blind faith that resources will never run out, profits will go on increasing forever, just like the world’s populations—more cheap labor, more addicted consumers.””
Oops, did I make a promise to compare and contrast Gone Girl with The Orphan Master’s Son? I am not sure what exactly I had in mind several months ago, but The Orphan Master’s Son is unquestionably, indubitably better so I’m not sure why a compare and contrast is even necessary. But, I gave my word, so here’s a short compare and contrast.
I read Gone Girl immediately after The Orphan Master’s Son; in the former reading, I kept on reading when I desperately wanted to stop, and in the latter reading, I had to stop when I reached the last punctuation mark but wanted to keep going. There you go, that’s my “contrast” part.
While the contrasting point is obvious, the similarities are more subtle. Both books are about perspectives and the manipulation thereof. Both of the plots lead to greater questions and ideas about storytelling. In the The Orphan Master’s Son, Adams depicts the totalitarian nature of the government of North Korea the best in the novel when he writes “Stories are factual. If a farmer is declared a music virtuoso by the state, everyone had better start calling him maestro. And secretly, he’d be wise to start practicing the piano. For us, the story is more important than the person.” Eeeeek, that’s scary—the idea that an individual’s life/story is meaningless. I think the quote leads to a bigger theme that transcends the boundaries of North Korea—to what extent are we in control of our own story? Are we created by stories that other people tell? Or, do we have the power and persuasion to tell the story that we want to tell?
Gone Girl has glimpses of the same theme—the malleability of identify and of one’s self. Nick and Amy are at battle to persuade his or her story is the true story, which leads to me wondering how others see me—how their perspective can alter my own story and image.
I think this is what I had in mind when I mentioned a compare and contrast a few months ago. The final verdict is that even though both novels have themes that slightly intersect, Gone Girl's biggest fail is its frills and cheap twisted thrills that ends up being a story bullshitting about two awful people instead of an authentic portrayal of marriage. The Orphan Master’s Son, on the other hand, is an authentic exploration into North Korea, propaganda, and the sacrifices made to tell the story we want to tell. In fact, my review does not do the masterpiece justice. Go read it for yourself. Please!