Skip to main content

So Much for That by Lionel Shriver

In this novel, that I think that I saw referred to on NPR, Shriver takes on the health care system and uses his novel to provide social commentary about how it is broken. It also tends to rail against the system of taxation that is currently in place. 

The main character is Shepherd (Shep for short), who spent much of his life building up a handyman business. The business was successful and Shep had a pretty good life - he was married to a wonderful woman and they had two children together. Shep sold the business and put the money into an account so that he could go to Pemba on a trip and retire there.  However, his wife contracts mesothelioma - a particularly virulent form of cancer - that begins to decimate his savings. Glynis, his wife, naturally becomes bitter and blames Shep ( thinking that the asbestos he worked with caused the cancer) and herself, for using art supplies that had asbestos in it as well. As it turns out, the person that he sold the company to has agreed to keep him on but the health care plan that the new owner purchased is absolutely horrendous and so Shep ends up having to foot a lot of the bills.

His best friend,Jackson is also in a similar situation - his daughter Flicka has a serious genetic medical condition that will lead to her death soon and which requires constant around the clock care and medications.

This novel was hard to get into but once I got into it, I enjoyed it. The characters are very vivid and well drawn and the diatribes are very relevant to today's issues.  The writing style was all right - nothing to fawn over - and was part of the reason that I had a hard time getting into the novel.

Grade: B

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

In Memoriam

One of my most favorite bookish podcasts, Books on the Nightstand, has ended its tremendously successful run.  It has been around seemingly forever and was one of my staples in book recommendations. It will be sorely missed and leaves a space in my podcast listening zone that I'm striving to fill.  While I understand that the podcast em-cees, Michael and Anne, have their own lives that they probably want to continue with (and podcasting takes a lot of time, particularly when you're as popular as they are and, for example, as popular as the Manic Mommies are/were), they will be sorely missed.  However you can find them on both Goodreads and on Twitter.

In anticipation of their ultimate decision to end the podcast, I found a number of other really awesome podcasts to fill the void, some of which are bookish and some of which aren't.  For your listening pleasure:


BookRiot - more of a news in the publishing industry podcast but still pretty awesome;All the Books - a weekly po…

Missoula by Jon Krakauer

You may recognize the author's name - Krakauer is perhaps most famous for the book Into the Wild about a young man that goes to Alaska (and which was made into a movie).  I enjoyed that book and when I heard on a podcast that I listen to that Krakuer had written a new book, I decided to get it and read it.  In this book, which is non fiction - he focuses on the University of Montana, the local police department and at the local prosecutor's office and analyzes their job performances through the eyes of five young women who were sexually assaulted. During this same period, the Department of Justice investigated how those same parties handled 80 rape cases and that investigation yielded dismaying results. In one instance, a detective re assured a male suspect during an interrogation that she didn't believe he committed a rape (despite evidence to the contrary) because they got a lot of false accusations. Similarly, the Chief of Police (!!!) sent an article to a victim citin…

City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

I was hesitant to pick up Justin Cronin's trilogy, which began with The Passage, because I was vampired out.  But it's different. It combines science fiction and westerns and spans about 1500 pages and 1000 years and generations, upon generations of people.  It's dystopian and hopeful all at the same time! The vampires don't sparkle, thankfully, and the story isn't just told in prose - it's told via letters, journals, scientific journals, flashback, the whole nine yards.
As the book opens, we find our beloved characters in a time of peace and relative prosperity.  There have been no viral attacks for twenty years. The main characters are all struggling with something that has broken them and they each struggle. And there was also Zero, the ultimate bad guy, that wants his say and his ultimate revenge. This book is wonderful in the sense that it is Cronin at his absolute best - he is a storyteller on par with perhaps the best of the fantasy writers - of any w…