It was a lengthy, interesting profile of journalist and author Lionel Shriver in a recent issue of The New Yorker that stirred me to read the most disturbing fiction I’ve ever encountered—her “We Need to Talk About Kevin”.
I don’t read that much fiction. When I do, it tends not to be of the American Psycho-meets- A Clockwork Orange-brutalizes-any-Stephen-King-book variety. So maybe I’m a babe in the woods when it comes to this kind of material, but this book was hard for me to read—even harder to put down.
Eva was ambivalent about having a baby to start with and when she did, she found it difficult to love Kevin. From infancy into teenagerism, he is a hostile—I’m tempted to say demonic—force. The book is a series of letters Eva writes to Kevin’s father, trying to make sense of what went so wrong in their lives. Kevin, at the age of 15, has instigated a school massacre. And more.
This book is cleverly crafted and, if such a troubling work can be called this, beautifully written. Eva is attempting to discern what responsibility she must bear for her son’s murderous behavior.
This is not a new book. It wasn’t until after I finished reading it that I discovered it had become a movie nine years after the 2003 novel was first published. I watched the first half hour of the movie (starring Tilda Swinton) and decided I was not prepared to endure the story a second time.
Shriver has a new book, The Motion of the Body Through Space. It’s about a husband’s obsession with exercise. Doesn’t sound like a good fit for me.