25 October 2011

Actual Book Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

This is cheating. :D.  I wrote this review a long time ago. (Note: I use the term "review" loosely.) I've got piles of 'em. So, let's go with a motherhood theme for the next little while.

Feb. 6, 2010. Damn. This is one of the most frightening, frustrating books I've ever read. I'm a thirty-something woman planning motherhood, and Stephen King couldn't have scared me more. 

Why: This book gets a lot of praise, and I've loved the other books by Shriver that I've read.

This happily-married 37-year-old career woman has a baby because her husband wants one, and she resents the intrusion into her life. Whatever. That could be a million people. Some readers think that she's so horrible because she's cold to her uncuddly little sociopath Kevin from the beginning. I think she should have drowned him in the bathtub.

But, anyway, Shriver sure knows how to wield a pen so that the ink gets under your skin. The story just draws you in further, and the horror quotient creeps up as Kevin gets older and his mother grows increasingly powerless. His father's willful ignorance gets more and more alarming, and I just want to scream at the main character: Run, Eva, run!

Exceptionally well-done. A few flaws. I found the ending a bit implausible, but maybe not. It's very thought-provoking, but I don't want to provide spoilers.

As a nice tie-in, I found this article by Shriver re unlikeable characters on Slate this morning. (This is legal, right?)

Today's comments:

I once told my neighborhood bartender that the most controversial word in the English language (besides "God," probably) is "mother." Kevin lends validity to my theory. This book is, at base, about what we can expect from mothers, and what mothers expect of themselves. This isn't a book about the father, although he's there the whole time, too. Shriver said that it would have been irresponsible for her to have written the book if she had children.  I've pondered that. Does she mean that if her children ever read such a story by their own mother...yeah, I get it now.

Back to controversy. Ask ten different people about Kevin's mom and her part in making a sociopath and you'll get probably six different answers, at least. From what I gathered on LibraryThing chat boards, my opinion is a bit in the minority. But I don't really see why: absent extreme abuse, which did not occur--no abuse occurred, on the part of the parents anyway--, Kevin's extreme actions are his own.  And if maternal ambivalence can create a school shooter, we'd all have had one in our high schools.

So, really, what did Eva do that was so terrible? Full disclosure: my own mother is not a bit maternal, and look how well I turned out ;-)

UPDATE: I watched the trailer for the upcoming Kevin movie.  It look awesome, but I don't know if I'll be able to watch it. It would be like reading the book again, but worse, in a way. I got creeped out from two minutes of snaps and clips. How could I take a prolonged narrative? So torn.

24 October 2011

Random Musings of the Enceinte #0003: Ramblings of a Former Erstwhile Crazy Person

I feel like a crazy person, and this is not cool. You know why? Because I have worked very hard on not being a crazy person. I was a crazy person, and I thought that one of the perks of becoming a grown-up (a real one, like Suze Orman, or my friend Jeanette) was that I would no longer have to be a crazy person. I wouldn't have to get my feelings hurt over imagined slights: since I'm not crazy, I give people the benefit of the doubt and recognize that the world does not revolve around me.  I wouldn't have to review, and re-review, every bad decision of the last two decades because I know that we cannot change the past and I have learned to appreciate the present. Right?

Wrong. I am now a crazy person. And the worst part about this sort of crazy is that I can feel the crazy as separate from my normal thought processes. I am watching the emotions from...well, as much distance as you can get inside your own head, and I am saying to myself, Hmm, haven't felt that emotion in a long while. What is that? Insecurity? Geez. Wonder what's causing that, cuz nothing has happened to make me feel that way.

It's almost like I'm faking it, but I'm not because if I were faking it I could stop faking it. These feelings are chemical! They don't have a cause that needs to be addressed!

So. Now what?

Random Musings of the Enceinte #0002: What Would Tina Fey Do?

I left work early on Friday to sleep. I slept all weekend. I am still sleepy. This is outrageous! I am actually sick of sleeping. But that doesn't keep me from looking forward to lunchtime when I plan to have a nap. I think I can make the car real cozy for this sort of thing. My house is only 10 minutes from my office, but I'm thinking that's 20 minutes that I could be sleeping.

Seriously? How hard is it to build a placenta? It's not like building the Pyramids. Is it?

If I seem incoherent, that's because I am. I also managed to watch the entire Season 3 of 30 Rock. Netflix instant streaming is my new best friend. But of course, while I'm watching all I can think is, how did Tina Fey do this while she was pregnant? Maybe I should ask her. Wonder if she's on Facebook.