Erik Alm Alm itibaren Narad, Punjab 143530, Hindistan
I have truly loved Lionel Shriver's past novels, but now wonder if she isn't a lot like the hand-walking queer (that character in Beaches who does all kinds of freak circus tricks to wow the crowds on the boardwalk) or that friend you make on the first day of school who you have to shrug off in mid-October because they have become so annoying and demanding. So shrill! So showy! So longwinded! I would tell my Mom NOT to invite her for another play date. So Much For That details two families' slow painful orbit in the universe of a broken health care system. Genetic disorders, terminal cancer, botched elective surgery, placebo effects, copays, deductibles, co-insurance, assisted living facilities, the lot. These characters might be interesting, but it's hard to really know them for their congenital preachiness, malignant character flaws, septic world views, and specimen biopsy quality flatness. (Like my new medical lingo?) I don't expect suffering, bankruptcy, and death to be pleasant, but the 600+ pages of sarcasm and spite wore on this gentle reader's nerves. All this aside, I saw the author I love shine through in the last 100 pages, and that was enough to redeem this book from the rubbish bin for me. Lionel, honey -- call me next time you need a friendly read-through.