Review: As all-star whodunits go, ‘Glass Onion’ has enormous appeal. There’s plenty to like as its writers go head-to-head with one another with the skill and energy of a real professional, the fun and energy of a young kid, and the emotional depth of a real person whose life was turned upside down by a tragedy.
What is there to say about the brilliant and heartbreaking ‘Glass Onion’ except that this is a story about friendship, loyalty, family, friendship, loyalty, family. Those are among the characters, of course. There is also the narrator, Susan, who has the burden of being both narrator and character, though the reader will come to find that there is no sense of characterization or individuality in the writing, just a stream of consciousness with no indication of point of view. What little of characterization there is is supplied by the reader. The reader is made to feel her feelings as Susan, her mind as Susan, her characterizations as Susan. It is the way of the modern book.
It is worth noting, though, that as much as Susan’s stream of consciousness may be told by the reader, in that the reader is given only a tiny glimpse of Susan’s mind, we also get a glimpse into the mind of that person from whom Susan is separated. In order to do her job (to do the work of the reader), to do the work of the character telling the story, Susan needs to have a certain level of emotional comfort with every person she experiences, and a feeling of connection with them is essential to this. In the process of building the portrait–and this is the way that ‘Glass Onion’ is told–Susan’s “I” is constantly shifting between “me” and Susan. Sometimes it is more “I”. Sometimes more Susan. Sometimes less Susan, sometimes more Susan, sometimes less Susan, or–in the end–more Susan.
And it is only in this way that we as readers are given both a sense of Susan’s life story and the sense of the story itself that can be told in this form. This form is an extension of a story told through characters, and so the whole form is ultimately the story told by the narrator, in the sense that it is Susan’s story told by the narrator. The reader, then, becomes integral to the narration, as the reader/narrator becomes integral to the life story of the narrator.