We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver


This was one hell of a read. I heard it was horrible, however I found it a surprisingly quick read. There was no reluctance to pick the book up and continue reading, even though I said to myself I can leave it any time I wanted if I found it intolerable. When I closed the book, after I read the final sentences, I remember thinking it was bloody brilliant. It opened certain questions I never considered before or not seriously enough.

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a novel written in a form of letters from Eva to her husband Franklin after their son Kevin Columbine style killed seven of his school friends, a teacher and a cafeteria worker. Eva never wanted to have children. Franklin wanted a traditional happy family and in time Eva relented. Her reason for having a child was to turn a new leaf in her life, to take up a new challenge. In my opinion, for all the wrong reasons. After Kevin was born he resented her as much as she resented him. It felt as sort of a payback. He was a weird child doing weird things to put it mildly, up until the shooting. Eva often writes about shootings in high schools throughout America. She and Franklin talk about it trying to answer why it happened. Why do these kids do it? Are they really so obsessed with being famous? As Kevin said in an interview, the TV viewers like to watch people like him. Why did Kevin do it? Was it society or his family or was he born evil. At times it seems Kevin is just plain evil, everything he does is calculated, especially the shooting. But the longer I read, the more I wondered if it was that simple. In the end Eva asks him why he did it. He answers: "I used to think I knew. Now I'm not so sure."

What I found interesting is the choice of Eva's name. I haven't looked into it so I don't know if it's intentional, but Eva is an archetypal mother. There's supposed to be an Eva in every woman, including those without children. Those women often care about other people or their careers. Eva Katchadourian seems to be the negation of the archetypal mother. She even manages to damage her career, albeit unintentionally, when she can't keep her fingers away from Kevin's "computer virus collection". 

Some people resent the big intellectual words the author puts into Eva's mouth, but I liked it. I thought it corresponds with her beeing or wanting to be above her fellow Americans, always stressing her Armenian heritage and explaining what she doesn't like in Americans, as well as travelling extensively. What I struggled with were all the dialogues with Franklin she transcribed in her letters to him. I kept thinking why she was doing that. Franklin knows what he said. However, when things klicked into place at the end, I realised there was something else in those letters, they might have been more like therapy for her.

All in all, I'm, not sorry I read this book. It poses certain questions, but does it answer them? I don't think so, or at least not entirely. The reader has to work it out for him/herself. I like that.

*

O tej knjigo sem slišala, da je grozna, vendar sem jo presenetljivo hitro prebrala. Nisem imela težav, da bi nadaljevala z branjem potem, ko bi jo odložila, kar se mi včasih dogaja s knjigami, ki mi zaradi tega ali onega razloga niso všeč. Tematika je res težka. Od začetka sem si celo prigovarjala, da mi res ni treba prebrati do konca, če mi ne bo všeč. Ni mi žal, da sem jo prebrala, daleč od tega. Knjiga mi je dala misliti o temah, o katerih po navadi ne razmišljam ali vsaj ne dovolj. 

Morava se pogovoriti o Kevinu je roman v pismih, ki jih Eva piše možu Franklinu, potem, ko je njun sin Kevin ustrelil sedem sošolcev, učiteljico in kuharico iz šolske jedilnice. Eva si nikoli ni želela otrok. Franklin je bil tisti, ki je želel tradicionalno srečno družino, Eva pa se je s časom zmehčala. Za otroka se je odločila, ker si je želela obrniti nov list v življenju, najti nov izziv. Po mojem mnenju, iz napačnih razlogov. Takoj po rojstvu jo je Kevin odklanjal tako kot je ona odklanjala njega. Kevin je čuden otrok, ki je od nekdaj počel čudne reči, ki so se stopnjevale vse do poboja v šolski telovadnici. Eva velikokrat piše o streljanjih na ameriških šolah. S Franklinom se pogovarjata o tem in skušata najti razloge zakaj se to dogaja. Kaj se zgodi, da mulci postrelijo sošolce in učitelje? So res tako obsedeni z mislijo, da bi postali slavni? Kevin namreč v nekem intervjuju pove, da televizijski gledalci radi gledajo ljudi kot je on. Zakaj je Kevin pobil sošolce, učiteljico in kuharico? Je treba razloge iskati v družbi, družini ali se je preprosto rodil zloben. Od začetka se mi je zdelo, da je preprosto zloben. Vse kar je naredil je bilo preračunano, streljanje še posebej. Dlje ko sem brala, bolj se mi je zdelo, da le ni tako preprosto. Na koncu ga Eva vpraša zakaj je to storil. Odgovori jim, da je nekoč mislil, da ve, vendar ni več tako prepričan.

Zanimiva se mi je zdela izbira Evinega imena. Priznam, da nisem pretirano brala drugih mnenj in ocen knjige, tako da ne vem ali je ime izbrano namenoma. Eva je namreč arhetipska mati, ki poraja, varuje in neguje življenje. V vsaki ženski naj bi bila Eva, tudi v tistih, ki nimajo otrok, skrbijo pa lahko za drugi stvari, na primer za kariero. Za Evo Katchadourian se zdi, da je negacija arhetipske matere. Čeprav nenamerno, ji celo uspe škoditi karieri, ko ne more držati rok stran od Kevinove zbirke računalniških virusov. 

Nekaterim ljudem ni bil všeč jezik, ki ga je tu in tam uporabljala Eva. Preveč velikih intelektualnih besed naj bi bilo, in predolgih stavkov. Meni je bilo to všeč. Menim, da je sklada z Evo, ki se čuti (ali vsaj želi biti) nad Američani, veliko potuje, nenehno poudarja svoje armenske korenine in razlaga kaj vse ji pri Američanih ni všeč. Kar mi je predstavljalo manjšo oviro so edino dialogi s Franklinom, ki jih je zapisovala v pismih. Spraševala sem se zakaj to počne, saj Franklin vendar ve kaj je takrat rekel. Ko sem prebrala do konca in so stvari padle na svoje mesto, mi je postalo jasno, da je v teh pismih še nekaj drugega, kot neke vrste terapija.

Skratka, ni mi žal, da sem prebrala knjigo. Ali odgovori na vprašanja, ki jih poraja v bralcu? Mislim, da ne ali vsaj ne v celoti. Bralec jih mora poiskati sam, kar pa mi je vedno všeč.


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