Thursday, August 12, 2010

More Thoughts on Lionel Shriver

I'm beginning to really appreciate Ms. Shriver's ferociously dark sense of humor as I continue to listen to So Much for That. As my commute to work is short it may take some time for me to finish this book but I know that I will. There are times when I'm driving down the road and actually gasp out loud thinking, "she didn't say that!"

There are long philosophical discussions about quality versus length of life, including a rehash of the horrific Terri Schiavo case that put Florida on the map a few years ago and turned me off Jeb Bush forever. One of the most wise-cracking, poignant characters in this novel is Flicka, the extremely ill daughter of Jackson and Carole, who, at 16 years old, has had to grow up way too quickly. She's uber-bright and well aware that she doesn't have a long life expectancy.

 She feeds herself mush through a tube, is subject to debilitating seizures, yet because of the politics of public education in America, is mainstreamed in the school system. Her illness doesn't really allow her to develop friendships or to socialize in any normal way. She believes that people find her an object of pity and curiosity and voices the wish that her parents would let her just stay home and vegetate. But perhaps the lady doth protest too much?

Glynis, on the other hand, always such a cynic, has had surgery for mesothelioma and is currently suffering through a barrage of chemo treatments, hoping against hope to stay alive. Shep, now a full-time caretaker, sneaks guiltily into his office late at night to go online and just peek at the websites for the tiny island of Pemba where he had hoped they would retire to some day.

What, you might ask, to I do to pull myself out of the doldrums brought on by all this depressing reading? Certainly the newspapers don't help! Last night I went to the White House website and watched with pleasure as Elena Kagan accepted her appointment to the Supreme Court. All the good things that our government is doing - most of which never make the news - are there for anyone to see, if only they would.

Today I'll begin writing the review of my latest LJ offering, a wonderfully unusual and atmospheric novel by Susan Straight, a former National Book Award finalist. Take One Candle, Light a Room, will be out in October. Next up: Sue Miller's The Lakeshore Limited.

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