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Books I have read and loved

The product of a pathological need to categorise and remember every book I've ever read, and my only creative outlet being critiquing others' creativity.

Currently reading

Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
Barry Estabrook
Where I'm Calling From: New and Selected Stories
Raymond Carver
To Say Nothing of the Dog
Connie Willis
Flying Too High
Kerry Greenwood
The Luminaries
Eleanor Catton
High Conflict Personalities: Understanding and Resolving Their Costly Disputes
Bill Eddy
So Much for That: A Novel - Lionel Shriver So Much For That lacks all the force of So Much for Kevin.

My copy has an article at the very end (by Shriver) that is a condensed version of the book, which I wish I had either read instead, or not read at all. An old friend of Shriver, Terri had mesothelioma, and clearly Shriver regrets having been the kind of distant, but really absent, well wisher that she was to Terri. Having read that, the warm fuzziness I felt toward some characters and anger toward others dissipated and the whole thing now feels like a bit of a cop out. It seems now like an attempt at catharsis that should perhaps instead have been a personal journal or a few lonely wine soggedy nights of guilty sobbing.

I kept reading because I wanted to know whether Glynis would die, and whether Shep would get to his afterlife. As another reviewer on this site mentioned, there were a few too many rare and serious diseases and siblings and family members with various convenient failings that it was all a bit ridiculous. While countless books are populated by flawed individuals whose flaws push the plot into the places it needs to go, So Much for That is just overkill. You don't need a perfect hero and you don't need a hoard of personality disorders to create one.

The diatribes and dialogue were in many places overdone. Halfway through a half page outburst by someone, peppered with the kind of lucid and articulate observations and examples of various things that only come from having rehearsed an argument, I would drop the book and 'oh, for fucks sake'.

It's worth reading for the insights into the US medical and insurance systems, but as an acclaimed piece of literature, for me it is sorely lacking. I wish that Shriver had done a Harper Lee, and left it at one gut wrenching book that years later, makes me recoil and shiver.