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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.