Shortly before his sixteenth birthday, Kevin Khatchadourian kills seven of his fellow high-school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher. He is visited in prison by his mother, Eva, who narrates in a series of letters to her estranged husband, Franklin, the story of Kevin’s upbringing.
The truth is, the vanity of protective parents that I cited to the court goes beyond look-at-us-we’re-such-responsible-guardians. Our prohibitions also bulwark our self-importance. They fortify the construct that we adults are all initiates. By conceit, we have earned access to an unwritten Talmud whose soul-shattering content we are sworn to conceal from “innocents” for their own good. By pandering to this myth of the naïf, we service our own legend. Presumably we have looked the horror in the face, like staring into the naked eye of the sun, blistering into turbulent, corrupted creatures, enigmas even to ourselves. Gross with revelation, we would turn back the clock if we could, but there is no unknowing of this awful canon, no return to the blissfully insipid world of childhood, no choice but to shoulder this weighty black sagacity, whose finest purpose is to shelter our air-headed midgets from a glimpse of the abyss. The sacrifice is flatteringly tragic.