Short Story Review: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

Image © Crown, 2014.

Ambiguity in a story isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there’s also a point where it becomes too much. In Gillian Flynn’s award winning short story, “The Grownup,” the reader is presented with a perfect example of exactly what happens when there is simply too much story left unanswered.

I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t admit that Flynn immediately snared my attention with the opening to her short story: a main character whose job is to… well… to pleasure men, but not by having sex with them (oral or otherwise). Of course, this profession of hers is masqueraded by a front as a psychic. Because of this need to cover up her actual job, the main character meets a troubled woman by the name of Susan Burke and from there, things get a little crazy to say the least.

Plot-wise, Flynn does a great job at sticking to what many horror fans might describe as a classic ghost story, only she doesn’t really go too far in depth as to the details of the haunting – or lack thereof. Instead, she introduces several characters, a plausible chain of what might be paranormal events, and then an inconclusive ending where no fault is actually placed.

For a short story, “The Grownup” isn’t all that bad, though I must admit that the title doesn’t mesh well with its contents. I would much rather have read this as a full length novel, as Flynn undoubtedly has a knack for unexpected twists and turns. Even though I found “The Grownup” to be unsatisfying, Flynn’s talent at the element of surprise still shined through brightly in this short work.

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