butter their mother has left them. I used to think it a heroic
gesture, freeing them of a mother who (despite possessing
one of the literary gazes that has best captured the
euphoria of being alive) could not rid herself of the
desperation of a bleak, miserable winter and a love betrayal.
This model presides over my thoughts about suicide these
days, repetitive, obsessive, serious thoughts.
How serious? We’ll never know. There’s always something a
little ridiculous about suicidal ideas that aren’t carried out.
You know you must make use of the moments when you’re
inebriated by pain in order to see it through, but the idea
becomes slightly more ridiculous with every day that passes
without acting on it. And in the meantime, you talk about
it. In an abstract way, of course.
“It’s fucking anti-aesthetic,” my friend O. says when I tell
her about Plath. “Head in the oven, that’s out of the
My friend is an expert in people who want to kill
themselves and in people who do kill themselves. She’s a
psychiatrist. We met when we were fifteen and were
enthralled by our readings of Virginia Woolf, Katherine
Mansfield, Sylvia Plath, and similar writers.