The story follows Camille Preaker, a downtrodden Chicago newspaper reporter who is forcibly sent back to Wind Gap — her Missouri hometown — to report on the murder of two pre-pubescent girls. As she ingratiates herself with old friends and acquaintances she begins to lose her grip on reality as her inner turmoil takes centre stage. Flynn lures you into her subconscious with acute attention to detail, to the point where you can smell the stale vodka on her breath.
For all intents and purposes Camille had everything a child could ask for growing up, never wanting for anything. What we come to learn is that she was starved of affection, brought up in a household that eschewed love. Flynn explores the bounds of human suffering as something universal, of repressed anguish eating away from the inside out.
“I wrote Sharp Objects because I wanted to write a character study, and I hid that inside a mystery. I tricked people into reading about women and violence and rage and what that looked like in three different generations of women.”
I really enjoyed the way Flynn pulls back the cover on her sanguine backstory. As Camille delves deeper into uncovering the hidden motivations behind the murders, she unconsciously finds herself airing her own buried demons. What we come to learn about our protagonist is far from normal, intentionally creating a growing rift between audience and narrator.
Prior to writing Sharp Objects, Flynn followed in her protagonist's footsteps as a journalist for Entertainment Weekly. "I could not have written a novel if I hadn't been a journalist first, because it taught me that there's no muse that's going to come down and bestow upon you the mood to write. You just have to do it. I'm definitely not precious."
We live in a time where society is drawing the curtains back on traditions and traits no longer welcome at the dinner table. As such it has become increasingly commonplace to question everything. To challenge the definition of normality. For the truth is no one's perfect. Learning to understand and confront our own pain goes a long way to finding our centre and ensuring we don't pass it down the line.