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So Much for That, Lionel Shriver

2012/07/01

I was a little disappointed by this book. After reading “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” I went on a Shriver kick and currently have a pile of nearly every book that she has written (or at least, every book that I was able to get from the library).

I really liked the premise of this novel, and the exploration that she wrote regarding the price of a life, the cost of health insurance and health care, and infrastructure and social constructs that exist around terminal illness and end-of-life care. There is a dialogue where the dying woman’s husband asks the doctor how much time they have bought her and how much money they spent; the doctor replies that they bought her a good three months, and the husband replies, no, they were not a good three months. Anyone who has experienced the death of a loved one after extensive medical treatment will understand that.

I tend to enjoy Shriver’s descriptive and lengthy prose, but in this particular novel it seemed overwrought. Although the rants of one character raised interesting points and brought issues to the forefront that were important to the plot, it became a little tedious (which may have been the effect she was going for after all). Topically, this was a great story, but the overall effect was less than I expected from a Shriver novel.

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