What author or book had the most impact on your life and how?

An exclusive interview with the murderer

Shots of tearful aftermath, the piles of flowers outside the school, the memorial service, 'Never Again' town meetings...
Shots of tearful aftermath, the piles of flowers outside the school, the memorial service, 'Never Again' town meetings...
shots of Kevin as a baby, as a toddler, as a child... and a preview by a commentator as to give a loose explanation of what and why....
shots of Kevin as a baby, as a toddler, as a child... and a preview by a commentator as to give a loose explanation of what and why....
"It's very difficult for kids these days, the country's very prosperity has become a burden,  a dead end.
"It's very difficult for kids these days, the country's very prosperity has become a burden, a dead end.
Everything works, at least if you are white and middle class.
Everything works, at least if you are white and middle class.
So it must often seem to young people that they are not needed.
So it must often seem to young people that they are not needed.
In a sense, it's as if there's nothing more to do.
In a sense, it's as if there's nothing more to do.
Except tear it apart. And you see the same cycles in history. It's not only children.
Except tear it apart. And you see the same cycles in history. It's not only children.
All the kids in these school shootings have been middles class boys looking at a life with a mortgage, and a car and job in management with yearly holiday to Bali..."
All the kids in these school shootings have been middles class boys looking at a life with a mortgage, and a car and job in management with yearly holiday to Bali..."
And then you see Kevin, in his dormitory cubicle basking under the camera's eye as if under sunlamp.
And then you see Kevin, in his dormitory cubicle basking under the camera's eye as if under sunlamp.
"Everything Americans do that doesn't work out too great has to be somebody else's fault. Me, I stand by what I done,
"Everything Americans do that doesn't work out too great has to be somebody else's fault. Me, I stand by what I done,
it wasn't abybody's idea but mine," he smiled.
it wasn't abybody's idea but mine," he smiled.
"Dad the dumper was into some Little League fantasy stuck in the 1950s, he loved some kid in 'Happy Days', not me," he frowned.
"Dad the dumper was into some Little League fantasy stuck in the 1950s, he loved some kid in 'Happy Days', not me," he frowned.
"My mum has been all over the world, started her own company,
"My mum has been all over the world, started her own company,
look, I could be kind of a creep, and she could be kind of a creep too, so we are even," he closes his eyes and continues:
look, I could be kind of a creep, and she could be kind of a creep too, so we are even," he closes his eyes and continues:
"She always wanted to go somewhere else, well I have introduced her to a real foreign country,
"She always wanted to go somewhere else, well I have introduced her to a real foreign country,
since the definition of the truly foreign locale is one that fosters a piercing and perpetual yearning to go home," He opens his eyes and they shine coldly into the camera.
since the definition of the truly foreign locale is one that fosters a piercing and perpetual yearning to go home," He opens his eyes and they shine coldly into the camera.
"My teachers diagnosed me as one more fashionable victim of attention disorder," he crackles:
"My teachers diagnosed me as one more fashionable victim of attention disorder," he crackles:
"They were determined to find something mechanically wrong with me because broken machines can be fixed, but not my crackling disinterest."
"They were determined to find something mechanically wrong with me because broken machines can be fixed, but not my crackling disinterest."
Kevin's briliant, emotion free mind works like clockwork, patiently blocking the life pulsing arteries, manipulating their free flow just to see how they work.
Kevin's briliant, emotion free mind works like clockwork, patiently blocking the life pulsing arteries, manipulating their free flow just to see how they work.
As he keeps destroying everything around him, he is amused to watch 'that big theatre of human emotions', that he can not understand.
As he keeps destroying everything around him, he is amused to watch 'that big theatre of human emotions', that he can not understand.
He will never join  that human aimless chase for those tangibles of life, the really good but really elusive stuff that makes life worth living. Only if, his mother's late but final love shows him the way...
He will never join that human aimless chase for those tangibles of life, the really good but really elusive stuff that makes life worth living. Only if, his mother's late but final love shows him the way...

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN by Lionel Shriver


BUT WHAT ABOUT HIS MOTHER?

Driving through the dark streets

of my well known town

walkers hurrying past

they don't even see me

moving

going who knows where

everything I know

I am not going there...


Shadow of his mother

crosses through my mind

lonely in a crowd

people staring

judging her

and then just hurrying along

they all have someone

and a place to go....


So I stop my car and read her story,

one more time....


Just like any modern version

of those ancient Greek tragedies

this simple tale

of unthinkable suffering

and parental love

make us feel

so uncomfortable

and yet

we are so confident

so happy in ourselves

that nothing like this

will ever

happen to us.


We live in cynical times.


Can you sympathize

with an anguished mother

who struggles

to connect

with her son?


Can you feel

for a successful

businesswoman

who resents

to put

her ambition and career

aside

to bring to this world

an apathic son

with floppy limbs

and a grave disinterest

in life?


Can you relate to

a frustrated

inexperienced

mother

who finds her son

difficult

from the very start?


You wanted to

and you tried

but thinking

about her son,

who commits

an unthinkable

irredeemable crime,

you can't.


As I said, we live in cynical times.


His mother knows,

she doesn't expect

your understanding,

your forgiveness

or your superficial christian love.


Alone,

she grapples

with her failings

as a parent

while attempting

to rebuild her life

the part of which

are her weekly visits

to the prison for juveniles.


She has been sued in civil court

for being a negligent parent,

just like it happens

in many school shooting incidents

so maybe now,

is the time to have your opinion,

if you were the judge in that case,

what ruling would you have handed down?


She has come full circle,

making a journey much like

her son's own.

In asking petulantly

whether those senseless murders

are her fault.

She went backwards

so many times.

At the end of the day

she has no idea

and that pure ignorance

has become itself

a kind of solace.

Guilty or innocent,

what difference would it make

right now?


It is time for her visit,

one more time....


Mother stands in front of her son,

once again

and suddenly she realizes

he looks exhausted

confused

and lonely

just like her.

And if only out of desperation

she realizes

she loves her son.


"It's been two years,"

she said quietly,

"I miss your father,

I miss your sister,

too badly.

And so many other families

are still so sad.

You have never told me.

So please

look me in the eye.

You killed your fellow students,

teachers,

my husband,

my daughter.

Look me in the eye,

and tell me

what was the point,

why?"



He looks her straight into her eyes,

for the first time:


"That is the point,

there is no point.

That is the reason,

there is no reason.

Don't ask me: Why

I can mislead you

just out of spite.

But maybe,

just maybe,

today I tell you,

that before

I knew,

but now

I am not sure anymore."

Kevin for the first time in his life

bows his head

suddenly unsure of himself

and the senseless murders

committed by his hand

fall so heavy

on his thin shoulders

that he is barely able to stand.


The mother looks at the son,

remembering the time

when he was born

and she felt nothing.

Since that moment

they have fought one another

with an unrelenting ferocity

that she can almost admire.

But it must be possible

to earn a devotion

by testing an antagonism

to its very limit,

to bring people closer

through the very act

of pushing them away.


She opens her arms

and he huggs her tightly

for the first time in his life,

he is nearly eighteen years old.


We live in cynical times,

and yet,

no one asks,

why people do have children,

when kids are expensive

and exhausting,

and the risks

of something

going wrong

are so high....


This tale doesn't explain

if Kevin was just born that way

or his cold heart

is a product

of his mother's mechanical care

without love...


We are often most repelled

by other people

who share our own flaws

and we all have them

but what if that other person

is our own child?


The story just confirms

the truth from the ancient Greek legends,

the times are changing

but not us,

we are still capable

of unimaginable cruelty

and unconditional love.






More by this Author


Comments 34 comments

34th Bomb Group profile image

34th Bomb Group 3 years ago from Western New York State

Very emotional - riveting. Beautiful photographs. Hard to say how I feel other than I'm still thinking about it some 30 minutes later and have read both sides through at least three times.

I've also wondered about me and my son and what I did, or didn't do and how easily I could be that Mom driving to the prison. We all could be despite how well or badly we parented our sons.

Thank you


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, my dear fellow hubber for your beautifully crafted response, I have finished the book and couldn't stop thinking...about 'the mother', we are all, mothers on the same boat, after all:)


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

A great hub and I now look forward to many more.

Eddy.


Marsei profile image

Marsei 3 years ago from New Orleans

I am a parent who did everything wrong: was totally self-involved, neglected my children in many ways, but have both a son and daughter who have thrived and are successful in ways beyond my imaging, one as a professor in a prestigious university and one as a CPA , both in loving healthy relationships and one with two marvelous children. My own children, in my mind, are living proof that people are going to be who they are going to be, despite our best efforts of lack thereof. I could so easily be the woman driving to the prison and the blame would lie squarely at my feet. Life is strange and inexplicable. As I've said numerous times in pieces I've written, in all ours relationships: We do the best we can with the knowledge we have at the time. This is a wonderful piece of writing, full of unanswerable questions for all of us to ponder. And indeed perhaps the point is that there is no point.

marsei


Levertis Steele profile image

Levertis Steele 3 years ago from Southern Clime

What a sad story. Some parents do their very best and end up feeling like failures, while others forget that they are parents but turn out great youngsters. Still, some do all of the right things minus the few normal mistakes and turn out great children. Regardless, it is wise to find something to be thankful for each day in order to keep a line of normalcy in our daily lives. We must take the bitter with the sweet and keep moving.

THE GRAPES OF WRATH probably impacted my life more than any other book. It teaches perseverence when there seems to be no way out. At the end, people demonstrate a will to survive in any way they can. The old man feeding off the mother's milk after she lost her own baby due to her poor malnourished body coulf not sustain it, really taught me something about survival.

Thanks for sharing.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, again, my dear fellow hubbers for your insightful and geniune responses that I cherish enormously. I am grateful that you trust me enough to share your stories that teach me every day there is no one answer to anything, not one right answer because life is more complex than that:)

The Grapes of Wrath is another of great books and there are so many more worth reading and pondering about. I feel very lucky to live in a world that produces every day at least one book...the book before you even open it you know it will influence your heart and you mind:)


FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 3 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

Sometimes people do things simply because they can.

No amount of reflective introspection by mother, or father, nor any amount of analyis by others, can change that.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Very true, my fellow hubber, very true, but the reflective introspection is not because of them, but mainly because mother, father, caregiver, teacher...want to be sure they have done everything they could. Working with problematic young people taught me one lesson, maybe I can not change their behaviour, but I try to have the most positive influence I can, but also I would never let them to change my behaviour...'we can not change people but we also can not let to change us'...we can still need to have high expectation of us in spite of the knowledge that they do not:)


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

Thanks for your poetic commentary on the cynical times in which we live. I pray that the love we share may, to some extent, lessen the cruelty. Very deep!


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you MsDora, times are changing, as Bob Dylan used to sing, so I think it will:)


Break of Dawn profile image

Break of Dawn 3 years ago

Very gripping and very sad. Many people are materialistic with shallow values and so self absorbed that they value their own time – but no one else's, not even their child's. So how can the child not grow up to be the same - Not understanding the true value and meaning of life? Just giving a child stability, positive encouragement and love, as well as teaching them to be compassionate, respectful, unselfish and kind to others, are the best gift you can ever give to your child, and it does not cost a penny, just some time. Thank you for a very emotional and thought-provoking hub.

Blessings!


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you 'Break of Dawn' for your beautifully crafted response, you are right, there is nothing more we can give our children than the right values that help them to navigate the right path through life, however in today's world there is so much other influence from peers and especially computers and other digital technology...and also parents are so busy building their own carreers there is so little time to raise children....it is complicated issue but very important to ponder about:)


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM

Very touching poem that says quite alot about the world today. Well done. well written and well said. When horrific crimes such as this happen, we look to blame someone. I don't think it is one person's fault for how Kevin turned out. I think there are a multitude of reasons and the world as a whole failed Kevin. Not just one person. As things spiral out of control, some of these children just want one moment of control in their lives - where they have the say when all the world has been telling them 'no'. For each pull of the trigger, the child is in control of another's destiny. It is so sad. You have expressed this so well in this poem and I like how you really leave it up to the world to decide who and what is to blame for this.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you for your kind response, Suzette, I don't have any answers, just like any other appreciative reader of a great piece of writing, I have finished the book and just couldn't get it out of my head. Pondering about it in my little hub in words and images I managed to free myself from this beautifully sad and poignant story....but unanswered questions stayed with me just like with all of us....


loveofnight profile image

loveofnight 3 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

This poem shares some very deep words/thoughts that grabbed my attention and kept it....... "We are often most repelled by other people

who share our own flaws and we all have them but what if that other person is our own child?" This is a powerful thought which forces you to examine ourselves....great job


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Yes, my dear fellow hubber, we are all complicated human beings and even if not intentionally we do lots of harm even to our closest ones just because we are caught in our own emotional web...thank you for your kind reply:)


time2rite profile image

time2rite 3 years ago from Navarre, Fl, USA

As a mother myself, I find it hard to imagine not having feelings of love, joy and a deep connectivity to my own sons. I felt deeply attached to them even before they were born. Are we all flawed? Definitely! Does this mean we are "bad" parents? Definitely not! Do we make mistakes as parents? Of course! Does this mean our kids will grow up to be murderers? Of course not! I believe that our relationships with our children, especially the early bonding while they are infants, toddlers and preschoolers, is very important. Relationships are based on quality, not quantity, so whether a woman chooses a career or not while raising her child(ren) is a highly personal and private matter, if not one of necessity to provide for the family. However, that doesn't mean she can't still be a great parent; goes back to what I stated earlier: quality over quantity. It's a sad commentary on Kevin that his mom felt nothing-I am calling that a lack of maternal instinct-for her son. Perhaps he acted out so violently looking for the attention he never felt he received; maybe he chose to kill because he was angered and jealous of the others who loved and loving; or maybe, just maybe he was just plain evil. Very thought provoking hub; thanks for sharing!


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you for your thought provoking reflection, my fellow hubber, there is no right or wrong answer, unfortunatelly our deeds and actions are often hazed in grey....there is no clear white or black line to separate evil and goodness that lies inside all of us:)


Mr Archer profile image

Mr Archer 3 years ago from Missouri

Amazing story/poem. Powerful words that tear at the heart of a parent. My children make decisions that will affect the remainder of their lives, and while I attempt to give them the benefit of my knowledge learned through hard knocks, they continue, for the most part blindly, making some of the same mistakes. It kills me when something occurs that could have, and should have, been preventable. But as parents, we love them no matter what. We may not approve, or understand, but we love. Is that a blessing, or a curse?

The book that affected me the most is The Shack. Eye opening: yes. Soul searching: yes. Life altering: definitely.

Thank you for a most unusual, and thought provoking hub.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Happy you liked it, Mr Archer, it is an opener, that great book of our times, it made my head spin and heart ache for very long time I put it down:)


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

We live in cynical times, indeed. It is also not surprising that we have grown up this way and that some of our children will too. We have to learn to trust and love, accepting each other as the great human beings each of us is meant to be. Thanks for sharing!! I share too.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you for your insightful comment and all the best:) B


RBJ33 profile image

RBJ33 3 years ago

My compliments on your insightful and beautiful writing. My two daughters are all grown up, and one is a grandmother. I sometimes think they turn out okay not because of us but in spite of us. You do the best you can - pay your money and take your chances. My two are good mothers as reflected in their children and I stand in awe of both.

I have two books "The Power of One' and "The People's American History"


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, my dear fellow hubber for your honest and beautiful answer, it is the question worthy pondering but there are not easy, black and white answers we would love to have....I am just like with three kids of my own, my heart aches with their every day struggles to make the right choices and make the life worth living...but I can not help them, they have to find their own way...it is hard to make the right choices but it is even harder to live with them.....


Joyette  Fabien profile image

Joyette Fabien 3 years ago from Dominica

True, we live in cynical times, but it behoves each of us to do our share to turn that cynicsm around and add a little love and humanity to try to improve the world. If each of us succeeds one tiny bit, it will make a difference. If we choose to go along with the world as it is then we fail in our duty towards humanity.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, Joyette, very nicely said, all the best my fellow hubber and thank you for stopping by and leaving your thoughtful comment:) B


Chuck RitenouR profile image

Chuck RitenouR 3 years ago from Front Royal, Virginia

I found this very moving and enjoyed it very much. I'll find time to drop in again.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, Chuck, happy you find the time to stop by:) B


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

You have went all out here and I enjoyed reading your Hubs.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 3 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you, happy you liked it:)


Kellsie 21 months ago

Now we know who the sebilnse one is here. Great post!


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 21 months ago from Western Australia Author

We always hope we know:)...thank you Kellsie:)


Tambrey 21 months ago

A simple and inneillgett point, well made. Thanks!


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 21 months ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you Tambrey, very appreciated:)

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