So Much for That

By Lionel Shriver
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780061458583, 448pp.)

Publication Date: March 1, 2010

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the March 2010 Indie Notables
“Shep Knacker has been planning for his 'Afterlife' for decades, but life's pesky details always got in the way. Finally, he's ready to take off, even if he has to leave his wife behind. But when she is diagnosed with a deadly illness, Shep finds himself tied yet again to his employer so he can pay the hospital bills. This satisfying novel illustrates the arbitrary nature of the whole medical system -- including the things we bring on ourselves, the things we have no control over, and how we choose to deal with both.”
-- Alice Meyer, Beaverdale Books, Des Moines, IA


Description

From the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday World comes a searing, ruthlessly honest new novel about a marriage both stressed and strengthened by the demands of serious illness.

Shep Knacker has long saved for "The Afterlife": an idyllic retreat to the Third World where his nest egg can last forever. Traffic jams on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway will be replaced with "talking, thinking, seeing, and being"—and enough sleep. When he sells his home repair business for a cool million dollars, his dream finally seems within reach. Yet Glynis, his wife of twenty-six years, has concocted endless excuses why it's never the right time to go. Weary of working as a peon for the jerk who bought his company, Shep announces he's leaving for a Tanzanian island, with or without her.

Just returned from a doctor's appointment, Glynis has some news of her own: Shep can't go anywhere because she desperately needs his health insurance. But their policy only partially covers the staggering bills for her treatments, and Shep's nest egg for The Afterlife soon cracks under the strain.

Enriched with three medical subplots that also explore the human costs of American health care, So Much for That follows the profound transformation of a marriage, for which grave illness proves an unexpected opportunity for tenderness, renewed intimacy, and dry humor. In defiance of her dark subject matter, Shriver writes a page-turner that presses the question: How much is one life worth?




About the Author

Lionel Shriver's previous novels include The Post-Birthday World, We Need to Talk About Kevin (winner of the Orange Prize), and The Female of the Species. She lives in London and Brooklyn, New York.




NPR
Tuesday, Apr 6, 2010

So Much For That, Lionel Shriver's new novel, is about a middle-aged man forced to give up his dream of retirement on a tropical island when his wife falls ill and he's forced to go back to work to keep his employee health insurance. Critic Maureen Corrigan says the novel "acknowledge[s] the dramatic depth that fiction can bring to the debate over current events." More at NPR.org

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