Friday, August 12, 2011

The intangibles

I've been reading a pretty darn grim (but great) novel, Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin. It's constructed as a series of letters written by a woman to her ex-husband. As parents, they share the horror of having a son who's gone on a rampage and killed a number of people at his high school.

I'm not giving anything away by saying this much -- these bare facts are revealed almost immediately. The layers of additional information keep getting peeled back for an unbelievably gripping 400 pages.

But despite all the darkness you might imagine to be found here (and yes, you'd be right, there's plenty), there are occasional glimpses of the brightest sunlight, one of which struck me as I was reading this morning. 

The narrator mentions the 'intangibles' as being the "...stuff that makes life worth living."

The passage struck me as terribly important and then, when I was eating my lunch, I realized I had a concrete image of one of the 'intangibles' in my own life: a beautiful meal of leftover salad, enhanced by some wonderful salmon, accompanied by a pitcher of cold water, flavoured by mint I'd picked from the garden along with a few rings of lime. Small pleasures, but surely one of those elements that makes life so worth living.

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