Tag Archives: Lionel Shriver

Facing Your Fears

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This summer has been one of the best I’ve ever had.  I’ve had the chance to watch both my children grow and get to experience all sorts of ‘firsts’.  One of which was my daughter swimming by herself.  Since Princess was a baby, she was always afraid of swimming.  Anytime we got into any type of water, she either had to be sitting on a floating toy or was white-knuckle clinging for dear life to Hubby or myself.  Any attempts at letting go or going underwater was met with high-pitched shrieks of pure terror.  This summer, I made it my mission to ensure that she overcame this fear and swam confidently.

While we were at my parents, I took her into the pool and of course held onto her as I swam.  I told her that I was still going to hold onto her, but just her hands.  At first, she was extremely apprehensive.

“No Mommy, I can’t do this,” she whined.

“Yes Baby you can.  I know it’s scary at first, but I am right here and I promise nothing will happen to you. Ok?” I reassured her.

Little by little, she let me move her further away from while still holding my hands.  Then when she wasn’t expecting it, I let go and there she swam by herself with me still within arms reach from her.  You should have seen her face.  She was so proud of herself.  She then swam over to her Grampy just to prove how great a swimmer she really was.

By the time we got to the cottage 2 weeks later, the Princess was jumping in, being thrown in, swimming by herself (with water wings on) and swimming far out into the water with Hubby and I.  It was like she transformed into a happy little dolphin.  It never mattered how cold the water may have felt, she wanted to be in that water every minute of every day.

Next it was my turn to face my fears.  I have a terrible fear of speaking in public.  Can’t do it, hate it, makes me want to vomit kind of fear.  Let me tell you a little story.  Last year, one of my favourite authors, Lionel Shriver, was giving a book reading of her latest novel “The New Republic” at the Toronto Reference Library and I had to go.  I read “We Need To Talk About Kevin” and was instantly hooked. I went and sat in the audience, my books on hand for her to sign, completely and utterly enraptured in her speaking.  Then came the question period.  Everyone was asking questions and I had this perfect question in mind.  During her speaking, she had said that men were naturally competitive.  So based on the premise of the book, I thought of this question;

“Had the main character been a woman, how do you think the competitive nature would have changed?”

Simple right?  In my head it was perfect.  The flow, enunciation and grammar were spot on.  Now came the time to speak.

Not so simple.

I mustered every bit of courage I had in my body, forced my way up to the microphone, sweating profusely like a kid who stole a candy bar.  The host nodded for me to come forward.  Oh crap.

“If, I mean, had the chara – Edgar – cter, umm been a female, do you think, or would you say that, what I mean is, umm oh frig, would the story changed from like what it is now?” I stammered, stuttered and slurred.

The previous fans had stood at the microphone so they could have a head on conversation with Shriver while she answered their questions, but that is not what I did.  Nope, I RAN AWAY! Yes, you read that correctly, I ran away back to my seat.  She answered my question and stared at me from my seat while I was face down in my lap, thinking to myself “you really ran away didn’t you?”

And if you think that unpleasant interaction was the end of my bumbling foolishness, you are mistaken.  Next came time for the book signing.  I got to the front of the line and Lionel Shriver had the decency to ask me if I liked the book.  Of course in my mind, I could list off everything I liked about it.  What really happened however was complete and utter silence.  I could not answer her.  I just stared at her and nodded.  She just stared back.  My goodness that woman is intimidating close up.  From a distance, she made me quiver like a highschool nerd lothario but up close she made me a mute!  She was gracious and signed my novels.  So Lionel, if you ever read this, I’m not really that awkward, I just cannot speak in public, I really am a big fan!

I don’t know why I’m like this, but I cannot articulate myself intelligently in person like I can on paper.  Perhaps it’s the person standing in front of me or the fact I can’t hear your opinions or rebukes of my writing up close and personal.  There is a distance I suppose in writing that safeguards me from making a complete and utter ass of myself that public speaking just doesn’t offer.  My writing kept me out of the public speaking arena and safely protected in my little hovel.

Until today.

Last week, a PR rep from Zeno Canada emailed me to invite me to This Is Scarlett & Isaiah Launch Event (post coming soon) and have the opportunity to interview its young hosts, their parents and producers.  She had seen this blog and wanted to know if I would be interested.  At first I said nothing.  I knew my abilities in the public speaking forum and she was asking me to volunteer to jump into the lion’s den.  I didn’t tell Hubby until 2 days later when I casually brought it up in front of a friend.  She suggested I do it, that this was a great opportunity.  Hubby looked at me and asked if I could do it. He knows what I’m like.  After a bit of encouragement, I agreed that I would do it and began correspondence with her.  Thankfully I had seen episodes from the previous 2 seasons and didn’t feel as out of the loop.  I wrote down several questions in my notebook, bought new shoes, picked out an outfit and thought I was ready.

Until this morning.  Today was the Launch Event and all morning all I could say was “I cannot do this.  What the heck have I gotten myself into?”

I was pacing around, praying that I could find a legitimate excuse why I could not attend.  Maybe one of the kids would get ill and I’d have to stay home.  Oh that pimple, maybe it’s not a pimple.  Maybe it’s a nasty bacterial infection that requires immediate quarantine so as not to infect the rest of the planet with a deadly virus wiping out all of mankind.  Dramatic?  Oh absolutely, but those were just a few of the manic thoughts racing through my mind.

But I had to do it.  I agreed, they had schedule planned out and there was a high demand to be involved and I was chosen.  I couldn’t pass this up.  Plus my friend who encouraged me to go agreed to watch the kiddies, so it would be putting her out too.  I was scared out of my mind but I have to say it was so rewarding.

I got there and had a wonderful time.  I interviewed the hosts, met some new people and seized an opportunity instead of allowing my fear to hold me back.  Now when my children say they are afraid and I tell them to face their fears, I won’t be such a big hypocrite and run away!

“The New Republic” By Lionel Shriver: A Book Review

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11778910Ever since reading “We Need to Talk About Kevin”, Lionel Shriver has been on my go-to author whenever I feel like having my ideas and opinions turned upside down.  She has an innate ability to take taboo subjects that people often shy away from and rub their faces in it.  She treats her readers as an etch-a-sketch, imprinted with their experiences and then shakes them with her words, leaving them a blank slate to be re-written on.  “The New Republic” received scathing reviews from a lot of people, but I enjoyed it.  Sure there were some characters I felt could have been left out, but the very idea driving the novel was what kept me turning the pages.  A satire on terrorism, this is not for the faint of heart.  She puts a social commentary on terrorism.  While most people see the act of terrorism itself, Shriver makes you a witness to the dealings in the background.  Dark, politically eye-opening, “The New Republic” will make you question your very trust in elected officials, the media and how it spins world events.  For my full review, click here.

“In comes Edgar Kellogg.  A former fat boy and lawyer turned freelance journalist, looking to escape his second string complex and finally get his big break.  Much to his chagrin, he is charged with finding out was happened to his predecessor, Barrington Sadler, who disappeared while reporting on the SOB (Os Soldado Ousados de Barba) who claim international bombing.  When Kellogg arrives, his complex comes back with full force as he finds that everyone cannot stop talking about the infamous Barrington Sadler.  It isn’t long before Edgar realizes there is more to Saddler than all rumours his fellow Rat Pack spew.  Bombings, international recognition and effect on local policy increase, and soon it isn’t long before things begin to spiral.”

We Need to Talk About Kevin – The Movie

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Back in February, I read “We Need to Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver.  While I struggled with the first part of the book, I did enjoy it.  This epistolary novel tackles the question that parents do not ever want to ask themselves about their own children; Are killers born or made?  Shriver succeeds with this novel by providing many instances throughout where it is left up to the reader to argue whether it was Eva’s fault that Kevin turned out the way he did, or if Kevin, was born evil. Her focus on this theme is demonstrated by the characters themselves; Eva, and her ambivalence toward motherhood, Franklin, the high hope, “my child can do no wrong”, optimist, and Kevin, the antithesis to a loving child.

So when I heard that it was being made into a movie I was really excited.  Now whenever books are made into films, I do try to see the movie first because if I read the book first, I find the movie is ruined for me.  I know how things are going to end, I already have what the characters look like in my mind and things that are omitted from the movie that were in the book irritate me.  But if I watch the movie first then read the books, I can still enjoy both for what they are.  There are scene, lines and characters that weren’t in the movie that are in the book that let me differentiate and enjoy the book.

With all that in the mind, I did read the book first, attended a book reading of Lionel Shriver where she spoke about the book and had her sign my book, so I had high expectations of the movie.  And they didn’t meet them, whatsoever.  I have to say that for the most part, the characters were horribly miscast, especially Franklin, played by John C. Reilly.  With that said, Ezra Miller who played Kevin and  Ashley Gerasimovich who played Celia, were how I imagined them.

I think the thing that bothered me the most was that the movie felt almost like “Art for art sake.”  With the odious music that often drowned out the conversation and the montages of Eva scrubbing the red paint off of her house, the blatant metaphor of “blood on her hands,” I found myself wanting to turn it off.  The movie failed to capture the struggles between the main characters and some of the things that Kevin did in the book.  The movie implied the struggle between Eva and Kevin without showing it, at all.    So if I had to choose, the book all the way!

“We Need To Talk About Kevin” – Lionel Shriver: A Book Review

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Check out my latest book review on Lionel Shriver’s epistolary novel “We Need to Talk About Kevin.”  A haunting read, it forces parents and society to answer questions about children.  It is a sociopsychological suspense that entrenches its reader from conception on.  For the full review here.  Please read an exerpt below;

“Shriver succeeds with this novel by providing many instances throughout where it is left up to the reader to argue whether it was Eva’s fault that Kevin turned out the way he did, or if Kevin, was born evil. Her focus on this theme is demonstrated by the characters themselves; Eva, and her ambivalence toward motherhood, Frankin, the high hope, “my child can do no wrong”, optimist, Kevin, the antithesis to a loving child.   The characters themselves are so well developed that you will feel yourself being pulled into the story…”

We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver