Grodin offers thoughts on good and evil

What is it that causes people to misbehave — whether criminally, politically or socially? Wilton writer Elissa Grodin attributes much of it to narcissism — be it the belief they are too smart or crafty to be caught or they are just above it all.
That trait is the base of Grodin’s novel-in-progress and that is one of the things she will discuss when Wilton women gather Thursday, June 18, from noon to 2:30, for Wilton Library’s Ladies Luncheon. Grodin is the guest speaker for the fund-raiser that will be catered by Marly’s Bar & Bistro.
At the event sponsored by Bankwell in Wilton, guests may participate in a drawing with prizes that include two JetBlue tickets, an Hermès scarf, a beauty basket featuring Chanel products, and a massage from Adam Broderick. Tickets for the luncheon are $50 per person, which includes a copy of Grodin’s latest book, Death by Hitchcock.
Death by Hitchcock is the second in a series of mysteries Grodin has penned that feature protagonists Edwina Goodman, a physics professor, and detective Will Tenney. The novel she is working on now, the third in the series, has the working title of Quicksand of Reason.
“It’s from a quote by George Sand,” she said during an interview Monday at the library. “Vanity is the quicksand of reasoning.”
It’s an idea she has been working with, that “when people do deadly deeds to one another it’s not because of [something] evil, but from garden-variety narcissism.
“Narcissism is so prevalent,” she continued, “we all know at least one person” who displays such a personality trait.
Grodin said she began playing with the idea after a conversation with a retired criminal attorney. She asked him about the people he had worked with and his view of good and evil.
“His answer shocked me,” she said. He told her “there are a lot of narcissists out there and they are getting away with it.”
Grodin also said she has been reading New York Times columnist David Brooks’ The Road to Character. “It comes down to choice at the end of the day,” she said, of the moral path a person chooses to follow.
Add to this the idea of social media and the quest for success by marketing oneself, “it can promote narcissism,” she said. “It’s a social quandary.”
Grodin said she was “tickled” to be asked to speak at the luncheon.
“I love the library,” she said. She and her husband, actor Charles Grodin, have supported it since moving to Wilton some 25 years ago.
“It’s the heart of the community,” she said.
The Grodins support The Grodin Family Fine Writers Award, which is presented to authors chosen for Wilton Reads.
When asked why she thinks writing is important — what benefit does it offer society — she thought for a few moments to give a considered answer.
“It’s another construct through which to understand human nature,” she said.
“Someone like Dickens and Jane Austen, they gave us this completely entertaining road map through which to understand everyone and ourselves.”
“In my incredibly modest way I try to contribute to the understanding of human nature.”
For information about the luncheon, or to purchase tickets, visit and click on the Ladies Luncheon icon on the homepage or call 203-762-3950, ext. 239.