Sunday, April 11, 2010

So Much for That-Lionel Shriver

So Much for That
Lionel Shriver
Harper, Mar 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780061458583

Shep Knacker has always wanted to go to “The Afterlife” retreat when he retires. His plan to is sell his home repair business and stop driving on one the world’s longest parking lot, the BQE. Thus when he believes he can afford to move to the Third World haven he sells his business for a million dollars.

However, Shep made one major miscalculation. He failed to understand the hidden meaning to the excuses his wife of over a quarter of a century Glynis has given him to delay their retreat from America. He delays his departure for her and continues working for the guy who bought his firm until a tired Shep decides enough. He informs Glynis that he moving to an island off Tanzania. However, Glynis tells him that she desperately needs medical treatment in which his insurance will cover some of the bill. His Afterlife fund shrinks and Shep wonders how he has been trapped in his present life in which medical costs are killing his dream and consequently him; though he admits his complaints compared to his friend whose dealing with botched surgery and a daughter with an incurable disease feel like he is whining.

This is a powerful condemnation of the American health system that does not attempt to be subtle with its gut shots. At times the commentary feels forced, but as a whole, So Much for That hits home with relevancy as readers follow three subplots that are common problems. Shep watches his dream disappear with health care costs while his best friend lives in a health care nightmare. Although the verdict remains out on the Obamacare protecting more Americans, Lionel Shriver makes a strong case that the status quo denotes failure (and backroom death squad decisions), and tort limitations punishes the wrong party.

Harriet Klausner

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