I finally got round to reading Lionel Shriver's We Need To Talk About Kevin.
First thoughts (excluding preambles such as, who calls their daughter Lionel?) are I'm annoyed I didn't read the damn thing sooner. As is so often the case, I buy vastly more books than I can read (Am I alone in this evil practice? Happily, no), and I bought this particular book over a year ago in Sydney, simply because it won the Orange Prize, which is good enough reason for me.
Anyway, after starting the book twice and being unable to get past the first two pages (more my fault than the book's), I finally persuaded Shana to read it. She loved it and wanted to talk about it. So I read it and my God if it isn't a brilliantly compulsive read.
17-year-old Kevin has slaughtered his fellow students and is now in prison. His mother, Eva, writes letters to her husband Franklin in an attempt to understand what made him do it. Was he driven to it by her inability to love him? Or was he simply born evil?
As we watch Kevin grow up and behave shockingly, we become the only other people in the universe who can see, along with Eva, the truth: that Kevin is a textbook sociopath... or is that just the self-justification of an unreliable narrator?
Shriver makes you turn the pages with that sort of righteous fury common to those novels or films where the protagonist is wrongly accused and can't prove their innocence; except in this case it's his guilt which she can't establish.
From forbidding beginning to appalled end, this is a wonderfully awful novel.
Shriver speaks to John Mullan about the book (but, as they say at the beginning, read the thing first)
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Posted by Lee at 11:55 AM