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So Much for That: A Novel (P.S.) by Lionel…
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So Much for That: A Novel (P.S.) (original 2010; edition 2011)

by Lionel Shriver

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7014213,533 (3.86)71
Member:deargreenplace
Title:So Much for That: A Novel (P.S.)
Authors:Lionel Shriver
Info:Harper Perennial (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 480 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, borrowed, marriage, escape, ennui, parenting, illness

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So Much For That by Lionel Shriver (2010)

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» See also 71 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
With its cleverly assembled cast of the angry and the mild, the liberal and the anti-establishment, this book sets the stage for some spectacular ranting. While the subject matter – the US health system and welfare/tax in general – was interesting to me as a non US-reader, it felt at times that the ranting was going to swamp the plot, with the characters no more than mouthpieces for an angry author.

But if I was tempted to chuck the whole lot in as a bad job around the time of the extended exam questions rant, I was won over by the halfway point, and as usual the author’s brilliantly perceptive writing took over and made the book unputdownable.

It was often the throwaway lines that made me smile the most - of a sleepover, it is noted that “Zach was spending the night in another boy’s rank, cable-strewn bedroom” (brilliant, just brilliant, it makes me smile every time I think about it).

Whatever my doubts about the ending (something a bit too convenient about it perhaps?) it does leave you with a nice warm feeling, and in line with what one reviewer on the cover says, it did make me love the NHS even more than I did before. As (bad) luck would have it, while I was reading this book a close family member had cause to call a doctor out late at night on a weekend, and be rushed to hospital for tests. I was so enmeshed in the story that it had me panicking about the sort of bills that would head our way, and it was with genuine relief that I realised there would be none.

OK, and a small matter – was it just me, or was the choice of name for the central character disconcertingly sniggerworthy? It was ages before ‘Shep Knacker’ sounded anything other than bizarre, and then there would come a reference to “the Knackers” and that would be it. Despite the author pointing out the ‘knacker’s yard’ connection, it probably does me no credit that in my case it was always another image that sprung to mind. ( )
  jayne_charles | Nov 3, 2014 |
Shortly after starting this novel, I realized I may not be up for books described as "searing." I didn't dislike the writing or the rich detail, but I was put off by the subject matter (terminal illness and the terrors of health care) and the way in which characters seemed crafted to advance particular points of view. This was simply too issues-oriented for my taste.
  phredfrancis | Feb 8, 2014 |
When I commenced reading this book I wondered whether it was a wise choice as I have an old school friend losing the battle with cancer. For many this would seem a grim, uncomfortable read but the skill of this author is that yes she takes us inside the lives of Shep and Glynis Knacker as they are confronted with the devastating news and change of life plans.
In fact, for Shep, who announces to his wife that he has bought one-way tickets to the island of Pemba, for them to begin an alternative life, the news is twice as shocking. His nest egg that he has accumulated by hard work and thrift, to buy a simple life in a Third World country is about to be eroded by the exorbitant medical costs of trying to cure his wife of a terminal illness, despite health insurance.
This is a challenging and serious look at a modern day problem and the ethics of maintaining life no matter what the cost.
The character portrayals of Shep and Glynis and of their close friends Jackson and Carol, whose daughter was born with a rare debilitating illness, are powerfully portrayed. At no point did the rendering of this tale reduce this reader to tears, unusual given the topic, but it did give me an uncomfortable, soul searching, thought provoking but nonetheless page turning read. With deftness, the author even manages an uplifting ending. ( )
1 vote HelenBaker | Oct 6, 2013 |
I don't think Shriver meant to describe her own book with the following passage, but she did:

"Remember how sometimes, in the middle, a movie seems to drag? I get restless, and take a leak, or go for popcorn. But sometimes, the last part, it heats up, and then right before the credits one of us starts to cry - well , then you forget about the crummy middle, don't you? YOu don't care about the fact that it started slow, or had some plot twist along the way that didn't scan. Because it moved you, because it finally pulled together, you think, when you walk out, that it was a good movie, and you're glad you went."

Except I'm not particularly glad I went or, in this case, read. It wasn't terrible but it definitely wasn't great either. Most of the characters were so damn unlikeable that it was hard to muster up any sympathy for them. Even worse, though, were the multiple page long rantings about government, healthcare, evil insurance companies, etc. etc. etc. I'm well aware that those issues form the basis of Shriver's novel; however, the rabidness of the delivery was off putting and their sheer verbosity caused my eyes to glaze over and start skimming - probably not the effect Shriver intended. That said, I'm probably not Shriver's intended audience either.

Regardless, I'm reserving full judgement until after I've read [b:The Post-Birthday World|393060|The Post-Birthday World|Lionel Shriver|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1174407431s/393060.jpg|953226] and [b:We Need to Talk About Kevin|80660|We Need to Talk About Kevin (P.S.)|Lionel Shriver|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1170984758s/80660.jpg|3106720], both of which I have on my bookshelves at home. She's a very talented writer and I'm hoping that this is just a case of the subject matter and the reader not clicking. ( )
  cait815 | Apr 1, 2013 |
Loved it. Love her books. Cried cried and cried. Perfect ending.
  Pinky22 | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
Though there is one farcical plot development that is poorly woven into the emotional fabric of the story, and though some of the asides about health care feel shoehorned into the narrative, the author’s understanding of her people is so intimate, so unsentimental that it lofts the novel over such bumpy passages, insinuating these characters permanently into the reader’s imagination.
 
Shriver's fearlessly candid approach to illness may be laudable, but eventually it begins to feel less like nerviness and more like sadism. She doesn't try to move readers to tears (which is good, since none were shed), but rather to provoke anger. She does this. But by the end of So Much for That, we're not motivated to write our lawmakers to demand better health care; we just want an aspirin.
 
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Time is money.
-BENJAMIN FRANKLIN,
Advice to a Young Tradesman, 1748
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To Paul. In loss, liberation.
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What do you pack for the rest of your life?
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Book description
The extraordinary new novel from the Orange Prize winning author of 'We Need to Talk About Kevin'. What do you pack for the rest of your life? Shepherd Knacker is bored with his humdrum existence. He's sold his successful handy-man business for a million dollars and is now ready to embark on his 'Afterlife' - a one way ticket to a small island off the coast of Africa. He tries to convince his wife Glynis to come with him, but she laughs off the idea as preposterous.There's no way she'll let Shepherd uproot the family to some far-flung African island. When Glynis is diagnosed with an extremely rare and aggressive form of cancer, Shepherd's dreams of an exotic adventure are firmly put on hold. He devotes himself to caring for his sick wife, watching her fade before his eyes. Shepherd's best friend Jackson knows all too well about illness. His sixteen year old daughter has spent her life dosed up on every treatment going while he and his wife Carol feed their youngest daughter sugar pills so she won't feel left out. But then Jackson undergoes a medical procedure of his own which has devastating consequences ! So Much For That is a deeply affecting novel, told with Lionel Shriver's trademark originality, intelligence and acute perception of the human condition.
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"A novel about a crumbling marriage resurrected in the face of illness, and a family's struggle to come to terms with disease, dying, and the cost of medical care in modern America"--Provided by publisher.

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