Whenever anyone asks me for some of my favorite authors, 9 times out of 10 I will throw Lionel Shriver into the mix. We Need to Talk About Kevin is on my list of favorite books of all time (and proved to be one of the most sucessful book discussions that the library's book club has ever had), and The Post Birthday World messed with my head for weeks afterwards. The thing to keep in mind when reading Shriver is that she (and yes, Lionel Shriver is a female) evokes such deep emotions and feelings in all of her works, though they usually err on the negative side.
The same can be said for So Much For That. Shep Knacker has been saving for years in the hopes of retiring to a remote island off of the African coast. The time has almost come for him to leave when he finds out his wife Glynis has mesothelioma and needs him to keep working in order to retain health insurance. The fact that Glynis is kind of a bitch merely adds to the frustration. Throughout the novel, Shep relies on his friend Jackson for support mainly because he has been through the insurance ringer for years- his daughter suffers with a congenital disease. And so, as Glynis and Shep's bank account continues to wither away (and Jackson's marriage begins to disintegrate), the reader is pulled deeper and deeper into their misery.
And yet, despite all of this, the book is quite moving and ends on a more upbeat note than one could imagine. Though the book is exceedingly dark and depressing, the love and devotion that Shep shows Glynis is truly inspiring. It's a hard book to read, content wise, but the story and Shriver's language is lovely.