So Much for That:
by Lionel Shriver
$25.99 List Price
Lionel Shriver loves a good tragedy. In the months of soul-searching that followed the Columbine massacre, Shriver penned the Orange Prize–winning novel We Need to Talk About Kevin (2003). The epistolary thriller, narrated by a mother attempting to understand why her dislikable son went on a murderous rampage at his high school, wonders whether to blame herself or society. Or maybe he was simply a bad seed?
In her new finger-on-the-pulse novel, So Much for That, Shriver weaves together four medical dramas, and there is no ambiguity about where fault lies—at the cloven feet of the two-headed monster that is the American health-care system and insurance industry. Shriver creates a cast of complicated, ferocious individuals, including her specialty: prickly, narcissistic women who, if they choose to reproduce, do so at their peril.
At the center of each tale are the Knackers, headed by the good and noble Shep, a hardworking, entrepreneurial handyman who has spent his life scrimping and saving for his dream of "The Afterlife": the day he can chuck it all and, with wife and two children in tow, retire to the island idyll of Pemba. But when Shep finally sells his company for a million dollars, Glynis, his wife of twenty-six years, informs him she isn't ready. Once a promising designer of avant-garde flatware, she blames domesticity and motherhood for quashing her dreams. Her resentment is too great to allow her husband his heart's desire. After eight years of being forced to work for the sadistic jerk-off who bought his company, Shep presents Glynis with an ultimatum: "With no