July 5, 2016
After reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn I blogged briefly about its references to grammar; this post does likewise for her previous book, Dark Places (2009) – though the items concern spelling and punctuation more than grammar this time. Slight spoilers follow.
The narrator, Libby Day, as a young girl survived her family being murdered. For most of her adult life she has been living on the money sent to her by donors via her banker, Jim Jeffreys, who:
used to hand me bulging shoe boxes full of mail, most of them letter with checks inside. I’d sign the check over to him, and then the donor would receive a form letter in my blocky handwriting. “Thank you for your donation. It is people like you who let me look forward to a brighter future. Your truly, Libby Day.” It really did say “your” truly, a misspelling that Jim Jeffreys thought people would find poignant.
Read the rest of this entry »
12 Comments | books, language, punctuation, spelling, usage, words, writing | Tagged: abbreviations, books, crime fiction, Dark Places, emphasis, funner, Gillian Flynn, language, mystery novels, punctuation, reading, spelling, thriller, til, till, usage, words, writing | Permalink
Posted by Stan Carey
September 28, 2014
With David Fincher’s new film Gone Girl hitting the cinemas, it seems like a good time to mention the grammar references in the source novel by Gillian Flynn. (Also, I read it just a few weeks ago.) I counted three such references, quoted below.
If you haven’t read Gone Girl and intend to read it or see the film, you might want to skip this post in case of spoilers. The book is an effective page-turner, and the less you know about how the plot unfolds, the better. If you have read it or don’t care about spoilers, read on.
The book has two unreliable narrators. First, here’s Amy, revealing herself to be self-conscious and pedantic about grammatical correctness and careful to avoid hypercorrection:
The woman remained in the car the whole time, a pacifiered toddler in her arms, watching her husband and me trade cash for keys. (That is the correct grammar, you know: her husband and me.)
Later, a secondary character says “the hoi polloi” and the other narrator, Nick, rejects the redundancy:
Just hoi polloi, I thought, not the hoi polloi. It was something Amy had taught me.
For the record: the hoi polloi is so common, and has such a strong literary pedigree (Byron, Dryden, et al.), that even prescriptivist authorities often permit it. But it remains a popular shibboleth in usage commentary and casual nitpickery.
The third and last example of grammar discussed in Gone Girl echoes the first. It contains a significant plot spoiler, so caveat lector. Amy again:
They say it’s important for Nick and me (the correct grammar) to have some time alone and heal.
I don’t know if any of these (or similar) items appear in the screenplay, which Flynn also wrote, but I’ll be interested to see if they do. If you plan on catching the film soon, enjoy.
20 Comments | books, film, grammar, language, usage | Tagged: books, crime fiction, David Fincher, film, Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl, grammar, grammatical case, hoi polloi, hypercorrection, language, mystery novels, pedantry, reading, redundancy, thriller | Permalink
Posted by Stan Carey