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Another fine mess

Reader fan critic teacher reader fan.

Currently reading

Ottessa Moshfegh
Knife Fight and Other Struggles
David Nickle
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity
Andrew Solomon
The Good Lord Bird
James McBride
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More (New Edition)
Derek Bok
Dissident Gardens
Jonathan Lethem
Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s
Kim Newman
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
James Gleick
Complete Novels
Dashiell Hammett, Steven Marcus
We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver

I think I may have a counter-conventional appreciation here... I want to read a few more reviews, but, whether people empathize with or more harshly judge Eva, there seems to be a common tendency to read the novel as unrelentingly grim.

I, however, was startled by the wit ('though Edan points it out).... More on that in a moment.

Eva does indeed set us on the path toward what she calls that Thursday, and it is a tough accounting of every small misstep, every tough emotion, every maternal ambivalence, every missed opportunity. It is a story about a school shooting. It starts at point A and, with a wrenching honesty, reveals every detail that might--somehow?--explain how they ended up at point Z. It is like a police procedural, every line a seeming clue about Eva. And she's so fucking honest--or, rather, she is so open about every ambivalence, or rather so revealing about those 27 responses to our lives that we normally repress, deny, occlude. I can't imagine how damning my own such narrative might be, were I to account for every moment when I flashed an uncharitable anger rather than affection, mourned or moaned about or raged at the intrusion of others onto my own desires, where I was less the good son or husband or father and more the selfish fuck I fear I am deep down... Phew. Eva's narrative obsessively recounts that (infinite) stream of selfish thoughts and it can be overwhelming. I felt horrible for her, for the relentless rigor of her self-loathing.

But ... and here's where I creep onto strange territory... barely a page went by where Eva's caustic humor didn't bust out. Even point Z--that horror in the school--had this bite of black wit, Eva referring to Kevin as Cupid. The book is bleakly, rather constantly funny at the level of the sentence.

That, too, struck an empathetic chord in me--to be so vicious about one's own history of emotions and desires....

This reminded me--in the best ways--of some of Atwood's work, or A.M. Homes.