Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
Fri August 8, 2014
Gillian Flynn Plays Not My Job
Originally published on Sat August 9, 2014 9:22 am
BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: Peter, there’s nothing like a summer read, especially when you’re at a nude beach and a tiny paper is the only thing you have to cover up your bathing tackle.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
I need a big dictionary myself.
SAGAL: Anyway, if you like a thriller, you can’t do better than the book “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. The best-selling book will be coming out as a film soon with Ben Affleck. But we talked to the author back in July of 2013. And I asked her why such a nice person like her ended up writing books about such unpleasant people.
GILLIAN FLYNN: You know, I always loved thrillers. I always loved scary movies, and my dad was a film professor. And, I mean, I have very early memories of, you know, that top-loading VCR and like we're going to watch "Psycho." And I mean, I had a crush on Norman Bates. He was one of my first crushes, so...
SAGAL: I'm sorry.
SAGAL: Norman Bates, of course, is the murderer, as we find out, I'm sorry if I spoiled that for you, in "Psycho."
SAGAL: Played famously by Anthony Perkins. And we're watching the movie, and we are, the rest of us human beings, are like, oh, he's a scary, obviously twisted individual. And you're like, he's dreamy.
FLYNN: He was so...
FLYNN: He was so handsome. He cooked. He made her a sandwich.
AMY DICKINSON: Wow.
SAGAL: Your first book was about a really bad mother-daughter relationship. This third book, "Gone Girl," is about a really horrible marriage. And I'm sure you have people ask you all the time if, like, you're OK.
FLYNN: Luckily, luckily, everyone knows it's just kind of fiction. I do spend - I feel like I spend about my first 20 minutes at any cocktail party convincing people that I'm not going to harm them in some way.
FLYNN: Yeah, you know, I really - you know, like here have a drink. They're like no, no, no, no.
DICKINSON: No, I'm good.
SAGAL: One of the things that - and I want to be very, very careful, but there is a very - because I don't want to give anything away - there's a very smart criminal who plots a really perfect crime. And obviously to write that person, you have to do - you as the author have to plot a perfect crime.
So do you ever sit around and, like, get rudely served by a barista and go, I could kill you, and I'll never be caught?
FLYNN: I'll see you tomorrow night.
FLYNN: I actually really do think I could do it. I really think...
FLYNN: Yeah, I really do.
SAGAL: So if I said to you, if I said to you - I mean, I don't, I just want to say. OK, Ira Glass, if I wanted to kill Ira Glass...
SAGAL: And I'm not saying I do because he's a nice guy, but let's say I did...
FLYNN: You're giving me like a signal, like a code I think.
PAUL POUNDSTONE: You know what? I have the worst feeling that we're going to be listening to this tape, like, as evidence in a trial.
SAGAL: One of the things about the book that I love is something that I've - maybe I'm dumb, I don't read enough mysteries. But all the characters in your book, as they go through this disappearance and this crime and the investigation, are constantly saying, oh, this is just like on TV. The characters start thinking about how they're going to play the role that they know they're going to play in the drama they've seen before.
FLYNN: Mm-hmm. Exactly, it's like what - how does the accused husband act in this? At a certain point, he's just trying to figure out what to wear. You know, what do you wear when you're a grieving husband to the press conference? Because I think you would do that. You'd have to do that, right?
SAGAL: If I am unjustly accused of a crime, how should I behave? Just in case it happens, just in case Ira does die soon, which I will have nothing to do with.
FLYNN: I saw the wink again.
SAGAL: You did. But how should you behave?
FLYNN: Well, I think like a short-sleeved button-down would be the proper thing to wear.
SAGAL: So go for the dork look right away.
FLYNN: I just think it's a nice harmless look. It's sort of like, I'm casual, I may kill, I may have not killed. But, you know, I'm comfortable, I'm comfortable.
POUNDSTONE: A short-sleeved...
MAZ JOBRANI: Floral pattern like I'm celebrating, and...
POUNDSTONE: No, no, you're talking...
JOBRANI: I'm partying, bro.
POUNDSTONE: Maz, you've got like umbrella drink. I don't think that's where she's going.
FLYNN: Not a Hawaiian shirt, yeah. Like a plaid.
POUNDSTONE: She's going more pocket protector, right?
FLYNN: Exactly, exactly, but not with a tie. That's too formal, yeah.
POUNDSTONE: Oh no, a tie says did it, did it, did it.
SAGAL: You live here in Chicago, which we're very proud of, your fellow Chicagoans, that you're here with us. Now, have you ever like - because this is a huge bestseller, and I was seeing it everywhere. Have you ever gotten on a train, CTA say here in Chicago, and seen somebody sitting reading your book?
FLYNN: I have never seen the book in the wild yet. Isn't that crazy?
FLYNN: No, I try to go around because I would love nothing more than to tap someone on the shoulder and say, you know, how are you liking the book?
DICKINSON: Gillian, I...
SAGAL: Hold on, hold on, stop.
POUNDSTONE: Do it with that voice, won't you?
FLYNN: Holding a little knife.
SAGAL: Would you walk up, would you put your, like, chin in your hand for the author photo and go, hi?
FLYNN: Holding my glasses sort of askew?
SAGAL: Look familiar? Do I?
FLYNN: My best friend from childhood was out having dinner and the woman next to her was reading "Gone Girl." And so she said, you know, how are you liking the book. And the woman said - slam. Well, have you read it? You know, I just - all I know is that there is something wrong with the lady who wrote this.
FLYNN: And she's like, yeah.
SAGAL: Well, Gillian Flynn, we are delighted to talk to you, and we've asked you here to play a game this time we're calling...
CARL KASELL, BYLINE: Sit right back and you'll hear a quiz.
SAGAL: You're named Gillian. And as a Gillian, you're just one G short of being a Gilligan. So we're going to ask you three questions about the classic TV series that, no doubt, inspired your name - "Gilligan's Island. " Get two right and you'll win our prize for one of our listeners. Carl, who is Gillian Flynn playing for?
KASELL: Gillian is playing for Karen Estey of Columbia, North Carolina.
SAGAL: Give it up for Karen. The music for the show was composed in part by what famous musician - A, John Williams; B, Stephen Sondheim; or C, David Hasselhoff?
FLYNN: I'd like to think it'd be Hasselhof because of the kind of German influence.
SAGAL: Yes, of course.
FLYNN: But I think I'm going to go - I'm going to go, maybe with John Williams, the nautical theme.
SAGAL: So John Williams, the famous composer? Yes, you're right, John Williams.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: Long before he did "Jaws" and "Star Wars" and "Superman" and all those other classics in movie songwriting, he did this. This is, you're about to hear, the original theme song for "Gilligan's Island."
(SOUNDBITE OF THEME SONG, “GILLIGAN’S ISLAND THEME SONG)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Singing) Two secretaries from USA, sail on the Minnow this lovely day. A high school teacher is next aboard, all taking trip that they cannot afford. The next two people are millionaires. They got no worries, they got no...
SAGAL: It goes on, I just want you to know. The pilot episode was just 25 minutes of that song and then five minutes of whatever.
SAGAL: All right, very good, here's your second question. After the show became popular in syndication in the, you know, '60s and '70s, a number of sequel TV movies were made, including which of these - A, "Gilligan's Island After Dark"; B, "Footprints: When Jesus Walked On Gilligan's Island"; or C, "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island."
FLYNN: Whoa, I absolutely know that one.
SAGAL: Do you?
FLYNN: Oh, yeah, I remember this. I think that's C, right?
SAGAL: Yeah, "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island."
SAGAL: It involves the Harlem Globetrotters coming to Gilligan's Island. All right, last question, let's go for perfect here. Something in the real world was recently named "Gilligan's Island" after the beloved show. What was it - A, the members' only washroom of Congress; B, a giant floating pile of garbage; or C, those little free floating patches of hair some hipsters have on their cheeks.
FLYNN: You know, it sounds a little too on the nose to be the free-floating pile of garbage, but I'm going to go with that.
SAGAL: You're right again.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: The pile of garbage is twice the size of Texas and is called "Gilligan's Island" because it's made of trash and will not go away.
SAGAL: Carl, how did Gillian Glynn do on our quiz?
KASELL: Very well, Peter, three correct answers, so she's a winner.
SAGAL: Gillian Flynn's latest book is "Gone Girl." I won't say any more about it except you should all read it immediately. Gillian Flynn, thank you so much for joining us.
FLYNN: Thank you.
SAGAL: What a pleasure to have you. Ladies and gentlemen, Gillian Flynn.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.