I found Lionel Shriver's bestseller We Need to Talk about Kevin a really disturbing but really interesting read. So I thought I would try her follow-up novel, So Much for That.
Incidentally? I am in a really fiction place lately. Is it because I'm permanently tired and somewhat overwhelmed, even though I am very lucky and things are going very well? Is this why women read a lot of fiction, because they're always holding this mess up and they only have so much energy left?* But does that assume that fiction is an easier read than nonfiction? Why would I feel more like one than the other?
But I will not be able to finish this one. It's got a compelling premise: man dreams of retiring to Third World island to live simply (and cheaply, off his nest egg); man's wife gets cancer; man's bank account, even though they HAVE insurance, drained, and their marriage pushed to its breaking point. I am on board with that premise. But, if Shriver used a scalpel in her Kevin novel, here she uses a sledgehammer, as when the wife, Glynis, is speculating that exposure to asbestos (via her contractor husband) might have caused her mesothelioma:
"'You could easily have known, and you should have! Evidence about the dangers of asbestos goes back to 1918. The evidence was really beginning to accumulate by the 1930s, but the industry had the research suppressed. The specific link between asbestos and mesothelioma was made in 1964. That was before you even started Knack [his construction company]! By the 1970s, that asbestos could kill you was basically a known fact. I grew up surrounded by these stories, and so did you!'" (p. 55.)
That's just not terribly subtle. Actually, I know I've sounded like that in the past, especially when I've just learned something, but there's too many of those types of speeches here. I may try some earlier Shriver, but I'm done with this one.
*I know this assumes a lot, but I do happen to think women are doing a lot of multitasking to keep this world going.