itsnotmymind: (owen)
[personal profile] itsnotmymind
The copy I read of Lionel Shriver's novel We Need to Talk About Kevin has a quote from the Boston Globe on the cover, praising the book. The reviewer is quoted as saying: “Who, in the end, needs to talk about Kevin? Maybe we all do.”

I find this amusing because the message I got from the book is that everyone spends too much time talking about Kevin – to the point where they don’t see who and what he is. There is no shortage of discussion of Kevin in the book: Kevin’s parents fight about him endlessly (“I am the context,” he says, in the scene that his mother is convinced is when he decided to commit murder). Their talks about Kevin do not help either of them understand him better, instead they become polarized in their opposing views of him.

On a less literal level, as the reviewer is seeing Kevin as a stand-in for all young school shooters – well, there’s no shortage of talk about those boys, either – not in the book, not in reality. And in fact, the way the media talks about shooters often encourages copycats. The problem is not that we don't talk enough about Kevin - it's that we talk too much, and in the wrong ways.

Date: 2017-05-05 12:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] supernutjapan.livejournal.com
Interesting! Did you enjoy the book?

Date: 2017-05-06 01:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] itsnotmymind.livejournal.com
I would say I have rather mixed feelings. It's complicated because it's so very much based on an unreliable narrator, so sometimes it's hard to tell if I'm annoyed with the book or with the main character. I haven't seen the movie, but I'm not sure how they pulled off a movie - so much of the ambiguity book is based on Eva's interpretations of her son Kevin's facial expressions, body language, and motivations. Having it filtered through Eva leaves it open as to what Kevin is really like.

I ended up liking it a lot more at the finish then I did at the start, partly because it became increasingly undeniable that Eva is an unreliable narrator. It was interesting. I have trouble with the early parts of the book because Kevin comes across as far too worldly for an infant/toddler...although even then it's hard to tell how much of this is just Eva's perception. There were some other things that bothered me, although again the issue of how much of this is Eva's biased narration is hard to measure.

Date: 2017-05-08 02:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] supernutjapan.livejournal.com
Sounds like fun :D Thank you for your thoughts!

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