Date Completed: 7/16/2016
I listened to the e-book audio version, so for starters let me say that I didn’t like the narrator’s voice. I found it grating. I’m not sure if it was the same person who did the voice-over for Orange is the New Black or not, but she makes everyone sound like they don’t know what they’re talking about except the main character, who sounds very blaise about it all.
The story itself was somewhat interesting but also kind of grotesque feeling, like Albert Camus almost, or Reinaldo Arenas, a Cuban novelist/memoir-ist. The main character works at a psychic shop where she starts out giving handjobs in the backroom, which is indeed as strange as it sounds. Flynn goes over that in more detail than I would have liked. Our protagonist eventually works on palm readings, where she continues her blaise description of human nature, comparing and contrasting the similarities between her handjob clients and her palm reading clients. Eventually the story comes to its peak when she meets Susan, a palm reading client who is so filled with grief and fear that she opts to continue palm reading sessions in an effort to fix her problem, which we soon learn involves her son.
It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what makes Flynn’s writing style good, but the stories she chooses to portray are somewhat sickening while the writing flows through descriptions like water over sand. Flynn’s writing never feels jolting, but the stories that she writes are often full of jolting realizations and obstructions that the characters must overcome in one way or another. This combined with her dark commentary on society is probably what makes her such a popular writer. However, much like how I felt when I read Koch’s The Dinner, I did not ever feel invested in the main character.
Despite this being such a short novella, I actually wasn’t able to finish this book. I think this was due partially to the e-book being returned automatically to the library and partially due to my apathy around the whole story. I was unwilling to spend weeks on hold to finish the last twenty minutes of the audio.
Flynn is most known for her novel Gone Girl, although almost all of her other books are also popular. For more about The Grownup, you can read about it on Flynn’s website.