Words

 

We need to talk about Kevin
Lionel Shriver

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There's a self-aggrandizement in this wallowing mea culpas, a vanity

While I do hope this correspondence hasn't degenerated into shrill self-justification, I worry equally that I may seem to be laying the groundwork for claiming that Kevin is all my fault. I do indulge that sometimes too, gulping down blame with a powerful thirst. But I did say indulge. There's a self-aggrandizement in this wallowing mea culpas, a vanity. Blame confers an awesome power. And its simplifying, not only to onlookers and victims but to culprits most of all. It imposes order on slag. Blame conveys clear lessons in which others may take comfort: if only she hadn't - any by simplification makes tragedy avoidable. There may even be a fragile place to be found in the assumption of total responsibility and I see that calm in Kevin on occasion. It is an aspect that his keepers confuse with remorselessness.

I was in the dairy aisle and didn't need much; I wouldn't. I never east pasta these days, without you to dispatch most of the bowl. I do miss your gusto. Debating medium eggs or large, I glanced towards the yogurts. A few feet away a fellow shoppers frizzled black hair went white at the roots for a good inch, while its curl held only at the ends, an old permanent grown outů. It was Mary Woodford. I'm not proud of this, but I couldn't face her. I reeled. My hands went clammy as I fumbled with the carton, checking that the eggs were whole. I rearranged by features into those of a shopper who had just remembered something in the next aisle. Scuttling off on this pretence mission. I caught my breath in soup.

 

 

 

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Posted August 2005
rachelkellett@rediffmail.com