“I’m glad yesterday’s Counselor post [i.e., “A Bleak, Indelible Beauty“] at the N.Y. Times gave you good copy,” F.X. Feeney wrote this morning. “I’m also especially delighted by the surging response by the commentators. ‘Merton’ catches me dead to rights about dismissing a whole genre. I didn’t mean to do that — I was just gnashing my teeth in a fit of lost temper over the way people are reacting to the uncompromising brilliance of The Counselor.

“One of the responders objected to the scene of Malkina (Cameron Diaz) in the Catholic confessional, saying it had no point. Actually, the sceene has a profound one [that is] touched upon in a throwaway line: “I never knew my parents. They were thrown out of a helicopter into the Atlantic Ocean when I was three.” There’s a lot of tragic history under that line. Because she is Argentine, it means her parents were desaparecidos (‘disappeared ones’) killed by the Junta in the 1970s, as part of their holocaust against their own citizens” (i.e., Argentine leftists). “Malkina is thus a literal orphan of history. As she’s not been allowed any ordinary connection to humanity, she has renounced being human (or tells herself she has) and elected to model herself after her beloved Cheetahs. ‘To see a quarry killed with elegance is very moving to me,’ as she says later. ‘It always was.’ In the deepest sense, she was killed with her parents.”