August 1, 2011

Literary Pick (****)

We Need To Talk About Kevin
-Lionel Shriver

Something about today's modern literature irritates me and almost always provokes me to go on a rant as to why. Now that I think of it, why should modern literature be any different than the stuff they play on TV today? The female character (Eva) in "We Need to Talk about Kevin", wasn't any different than what I've been trying to avoid, and I'll tell you why. First of all I chose this book as a change of pace from the kind of literature I normally read. I know modern lit is all about sensationalism, and I guess that's what I was in search of for my next read, although, typically, it's that very aspect I try to avoid. Eva fit the perfect stereotypical example of what today's authors create and think women love, and they must, because these books sell. But why is it that I choose novels where the protagonist or main narrator is almost always a whiny , show-offy, upper-middle class snobby suburbanite woman or wife? I mean this Eva character wreaks of Allison Wynn Scott and Eat Pray Love, without the romance. But you want to know what the insulting part of the novel is? The typical modern career woman who makes a 6 figure salary, and somehow gets to travel all over the world, because they always get to travel all over the world, you know.. which to them is a nuisance *roll of the eyes here*. They also almost all the time have a NYC Apt. which then eventually gets upgraded to a center hall colonial in Westchester county. I swear, this same thing happened in Time of My Life and in Eat Pray love, except in eat pray love, she moves to Bali. Then they marry someone who isn't exactly PERFECT, but to desperate book-wormy housewives, like ourselves, a 6'2 tall brawny manly man who plays the part of the great ALL-American dad and is willing to stay home and take care of the kids while the wife goes in search of herself, will do for us any day of the week. I feel like novels don't even try to be different anymore. It's the same old tired story lines with slightly different edgy inserts. And it's not that the premise of the story isn't an interesting one, because it is, which is why I chose it to begin with. It's the way authors craft these women/protagonists. Why does everyone have to be so goddamn perfect? perfect husband, perfect car, perfect career, perfect clothes, perfect friends and the perfect bric-a-brac to decorate the perfect house.. It's such bullshit, it's trite..This could have been a 5 star novel if Eva was authentically flawed. Like if she had 40 hard pounds she's been struggling to lose for the last 15 years, or if she had a decent husband who cheats just a little. What's insulting is that the author then tries to convince us her life ISN'T all that perfect after all, by throwing in a not-so-perfect child murderer. Even her murderous son is a brilliant sociopath. See? perfect! But that is my only complaint, not only about this novel, but modern works in general, so I'll stop, take a deep breath and digress.
Now with all that being said, WOW!! I don't even know where to begin. I compared Eva's character very much to that of the awkwardness of when new sitcoms begin and the star actors have to find a comfortable niche in their roles. Shaky at the beginning but rapidly gaining confidence and comfort in their roles making them perfectly casted for the part.
It's not one of those stories that has you gripping the edges of your seat, but it's written in an intellectual, methodical manner. It's psychological and calculating.
I believe this book is about American accountability and culpability, or lack thereof.
It definitely possess a misanthropic theme, which I admit was very seductive to me since I myself am disgusted by people and their mediocrity. The mom hated society and so did her son, and in turn society hated them right back for what they did, because yes, they were both responsible for what Kevin did. Accountability.
This novel stirred the sinister part of me, that part that made me go to them both, nyeh, nyeh, nyeh... because I'm so sick of women like her, who have children like him, who don't end up shooting kids in the hall and we have to live amongst them for all our worldly life. It made me feel very evil to enjoy what they were both doing to each other. How they both were tearing eachother apart. I loved every minute of it. This book sops with hatred, shame, and abhorrence. It was my own personal fantasy of "I told you so" to society. It provided me with that sort of sick satisfaction.


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