For me to screen out every more journalistic opinion I have would be foolhardy. What am I reading all those newspapers for? I did have to be
careful, particularly in my last book, which is a particularly vicious take on the U.S. health care system...The standard I had to apply was is it
fun to read? And it's amazing how much you can get away with that could be considered polemic as long as it's funny. As soon as it ceases to be
funny, your readers start feeling preached to and rebel.
Androgyny seems to be one of the things that Eva and Kevin have in common: She's uncomfortable with the way her face becomes more female when she's
pregnant, and admires her son's almost feminine physical grace while being unnerved by the way he dresses, which overemphasizes his genitals. And Franklin and Celia, the two most gender-conforming people in the family, end up Kevin's
first victims, and he later kills an emerging beauty queen. So is their collective in-betweenness meant to be disconcerting? Evidence of their
ability to see a certain kind of uncomfortable truth?
Eva is the ultimate gender non-conforming character. That's because nothing presses the reality of your gender for a woman more than childbearing.
It's the very definition of what it is to be female. It's the main thing that women do that men don't. And anyone who has a broader sense of
themselves, any woman who has a broader sense of herself, must have a moment of feeling confined, constrained, limited in some way by this defining
task. We've got a lot of ideas of what mothers are, and what mothers are supposed to be. And if you've never thought of yourself as that nurturing,
cuddling, soft, eternally giving gooey sort, then it's really jarring. I've never been in that position because I've never had children. But I do
sympathize with women who suddenly find themselves mothers and are dumped on by all that cultural crap, and feel that this has been imposed on
them. And also begin to lose their sense of their earlier selves, that we're not defined by being a woman. Certainly my sense of myself is not
especially female. I suspect that's not universal. But I also believe I'm not alone. When I walk around, I'm not feeling like a woman. It's a
bigger sense of existence of that.
Now, I think that constraint of gender preconceptions is equally limiting for men, but they're less aware of it...When the default setting for your
gender is that you're strong, more powerful, more successful, richer, smarter. Why would you fight it? Sounds great. But it does have a downside.
It means admitting to weakness challenges your very idea of who you are. That is unfortunate. That is not enviable.
So is deciding to have a child ultimately an irrational decision?
I was keen to include the period of time when they were trying to decide whether to have a child. You're entirely right. You go through these
rational set of pros and cons. And that kind of cost-benefit analysis doesn't get you anywhere. It is this huge leap of faith. You have no idea
what's going to happen. You have no idea who's going to walk into your life....Rationally, it's amazing that now that we have birth control, anyone
has kids...The stigma against childlessness, now that the norm has changed considerably, has lifted. I don't feel discriminated against because I
don't have children, and I don't think people feel sorry for me. It's the safer option. So I'm in awe of the number of parents who voluntarily
continue the human race. Good for them.
This interview was condensed and edited for clarity and length.