I hereby affirm that I will not give the story away. Not the way Kate Moss did in the Introduction to Lionel Shriver's tantalizing We Need to Talk About Kevin.
Let me begin by calming anyone's fears. This is no Eat Pray Love! Despite the fact that a top model introduced it and a pop singer with clownish makeup and dreadlocks recommended it. The way Eat Pray Love (EPL) is mainstream, this is alternative. Its subject matter certainly doesn't convey zen the way EPL attempts to. While Julia Roberts plays the main character of the blockbuster EPL, Tilda Swinton plays Eva in the adaptation of Cannes festival winner We Need to Talk About Kevin.
I couldn't get past 4 pages of EPL, perhaps its literature level I could not attain. On the other hand, I devoured We Need to Talk about Kevin, despite its antipathetic heroine and the gruesome subject matter that looms above.
I wasn't surprised at the image of the writer: her looks, and by that I am not referring to her physical traits but to her defiant and hard glance in the photo which reflect her writing style well. Her heroine is frank, matter of fact and harsh because the writing is tight, rich and deep. I will not identify the writer with the heroine, even though an interview I read of Lionel Shriver could mislead me in doing so. I have not read her other novels but I can affirm: Shriver's literary style was meant to give birth to Eva Khatchadourian as Eva was meant to deliver Kevin.
Shriver depicts Americana in that larger picture, she focuses on the American working woman. Eva Khatchadourian does resemble Jonathan Franzen's Patty Berglund because they are both American women of the 80s even though Eva is older. They have similar reactions, share the same feminist world view and both have a macho edge that makes them aggressive. In the end, Patty was a caring mother. Eva was not. I still think no one is as self conceited and spoiled as Eva is though.
But unlike my experience reading Orhan Pamuk's Museum of Innocence, I follow Kevin's mom more willingly than I ever did the narrator of Pamuk. Shriver deliberately makes a monster out of Eva. Pamuk himself didn't know how obnoxious his protagonist turned out to be. I personally didn't have chemistry with his male character, whom I considered to be a chauvinist, melancholic looser. That is my own interpretation. For all that I know Pamuk just wanted him to be nostalgic and love struck.
However, Eva is a horror. It is clear to all. She is spoiled, a nagging wife, a selfish woman. But like her author, she is smart enough to express her deepest thoughts, to analyze them and to build the tense drama.
I am barely half way.....I wonder what awaits me, Kate Moss and BoyGeorge have promised an explosive end.