Virginia Tech Tangent And Talking About Kevin

I won’t bore you with more of the banality already permeating the blogosphere’s attempts at gun control discussions in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre, neither will I bother with some empty words about my heart going out to the bereaved families. Words like “sympathy” and “empathy” get misused all over the place when stuff like this happens, but frankly I’ve always felt what the English language actually needs is a word where you acknowledge your complete inability to imagine or fathom what a suddenly bereaved family is going through, because you simply haven’t experienced anything even remotely analogous. I think it’s more respectful.

But anyway, the reason I mentioned this at all was just to highly recommend We Need To Talk About Kevin (Lionel Shriver) to anyone who hasn’t already read it. I don’t think I managed to write about it here at the time I read it – strange that I did write about Vernon God Little since I don’t think that’s anywhere as good on the same topic – but it was one of the best books I read last year. Call me a philistine but good prose alone is never quite enough to secure my allegiance to a book if its plot or ideas don’t impress me. This one has everything – good writing and characterization (you might feel a bit irritated by the snottiness of the narrator at the start, but press on), ideas about motherhood that I’d never read much about before, and as for plot let me just ask you to do yourself a favour, trust me that this book is worth reading, and don’t read the Amazon reviews in case they’ve got spoilers.

Is it ridiculous of me to suggest you read a work of fiction at a time when more than enough horrifying details about a real crime are flooding the newswires? Perhaps, but if the topic does interest you, this book allows you a more contemplative take on things than finding yourself riveted, despite yourself and more out of rubbernecking curiosity than any higher motive, to online videos of Cho’s demented ramblings. Which is why I have closed those Firefox tabs and decided to reread the book instead. Your mileage may vary.

12 comments

  1. Hey Michelle, I couldn’t find your e-mail address so had to resort to this. My boyfriend will probably be moving with me to Singapore in July and I was wondering if I could talk to you a little about the transition, since you guys went through that not so long ago. Drop me an e-mail if you don’t mind talking?

    I hope all’s well and wedding preparations are going smoothly!

    Take care,
    Xue

  2. Many aspects of my life have changed but sadly my attention to spelling has been unaffected.

  3. aaaahhh!!! a new BOOB!!! (sorry xue i don’t even know you but i’m so excited already)

  4. In case the term BOOB is perplexing anyone here who doesn’t know me in real life (I don’t think I’ve used it here before), it’s a handy acronym coined by my friend Kelly to describe Boyfriends Of Overseas Bonded Scholars i.e. guys who were willing to move their lives over here when their Singaporean girlfriends had to return to Singapore after university to serve scholarship bonds.

    They can be easily distinguished from the stereotypical Singaporean perception of the expat who comes to this land in search of yellow pussy by the fact of their commitment and personal sacrifices, and also by the fact that we girlfriends are generally nerdy and flat-chested, as opposed to our sarong-clad busty stereotypical counterparts.

    There were 4 original BOOBS in my social circle but since all 4 are now either FOOBS (F=Fiance) or HOOBS (obvious) they need new guys to pass the BOOBS torch to! So Xue, me and Alec will definitely get in touch. :)

  5. haha…thanks michelle for the explanation. btw i loved “we need to talk about kevin” – it was one of the most thought-provoking books i’d read in a long while. looking forward to seeing you in london very soon x

  6. haha…thanks michelle for the explanation. btw i loved “we need to talk about kevin” – it was one of the most thought-provoking books i’d read in a long while. looking forward to seeing you in london very soon x

  7. Hey Mich,

    The last time we met, you told me about the book. I haven’t read it, but think I’ll go get it sometime soon so I can read it and we can talk about it the next time we meet :)

    Let’s do lunch or dinner sometime soon…

    *hugs* And hope all is well :)

  8. Heya Mich,

    Check this clip out.

    I think you should totally do it at your wedding especially seeing as you’re a huge MJ fan and all. If you’re in need of people to join you in this particular performance, I’d volunteer. Heh.

  9. That’s awesome! :) Thanks Mich, and Alec. We’re pretty excited, but also nervous as hell about the pay (he’s probably going to be teaching in JCs) and settling back into life in Singapore.

  10. Stayed up till 1am last night reading book on your recommendation (before this had always thought it looked a bit trashy and never even got near enough to notice the rave reviews). It’s very good. Thanks.

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