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So Much for That: A Novel Hardcover – March 9, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (March 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061458589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061458583
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #717,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A risk taker with a protean imagination, Shriver (The Post-Birthday World) has produced another dazzling, provocative novel, a witty and timely exploration of the failure of our health-care system. Shep Knacker's long-cherished plan to use the million dollars from the sale of his handyman business to retire to a tropical island receives a gut-wrenching blow when his wife, Glynis, is diagnosed with a rare cancer. Transformed into a full-time caregiver, the good-natured Shep is buoyed during the illness of self-centered, vindictive, and obnoxiously demanding Glynis by his working mate and best friend, Jackson Burdina, whose teenage daughter, Flicka, also has a terminal disease. Ironically, Glynis tenaciously clings to life, while Flicka, with whom she bonds, wants to end hers. Jackson, meanwhile, acutely conscious that he's going broke, rails pungently against government regulations and the insurance industry. A mouthpiece for the plight of middle-class workers, Jackson's diatribes about contemporary society—the medical, educational and banking systems, exorbitant taxation, political chicanery—ring painfully true. As Shep's Merrill-Lynch account dwindles and further medical calamities arise, Shriver twists the plot to raise suspense until the heart-lifting denouement. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Some critics were initially turned off at the thought of reading Shriver's latest offering because, really, how interesting can a novel about health care be? Rather than being pedantic or depressing, however, So Much for That is a thoughtful and powerful look at the effect our health policies have on middle-class Americans. It also raises the unsettling question about the worth, both financial and emotional, of a human life. While several critics thought the secondary storyline involving Shep's buddy Jackson was contrived and others felt that Shriver offered too much information on health care, most agreed that Shep and Glynis's story was "visceral and deeply affecting" (New York Times).

More About the Author

Lionel Shriver is a novelist whose previous books include Orange Prize-winner We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Post-Birthday World, A Perfectly Good Family, Game Control, Double Fault, The Female of the Species, Checker and the Derailleurs, and Ordinary Decent Criminals.

She is widely published as a journalist, writing features, columns, op-eds, and book reviews for the Guardian, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Economist, Marie Claire, and many other publications.

She is frequently interviewed on television, radio, and in print media. She lives in London and Brooklyn, NY.

Customer Reviews

I won't spoil the story by telling it, but I will heartily recommend you buy this book and read it yourself.
Zeno Vatali
The problem with this book, however, is that the wonderfully-written ending to this story did not make up for the crummy middle.
E. Jacobs
Wonderful feel-good ending and fascinating plot, I was still thinking about this book days after I finished reading it.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on June 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I resisted this book. I read sporadically at first, wondering if my reluctance stemmed from the topic (SO MUCH FOR THAT concerns the bell that tolls for us all) or some flaw in the novel itself. In the end, the voices pulled me in. Even in (especially in) the throes of the most extreme stress, the characters are smart cookies: frank, fast-thinking, often sarcastic, always interesting. They are so articulate, they could pass for embittered stand-up comics.

Their territory, however, is not realism à la Jodi Picoult. Lionel Shriver is the anti-Jodi Picoult (each wrote a novel about a high school killer, but how different they are!). I do not mean to malign either writer. I love Picoult's down-to-earthness, how she mixes dinner dishes, soccer games and homework with life's gravest moral and spiritual dilemmas. Shriver, however, is to Picoult what an indie film is to a Lifetime movie. In SO MUCH FOR THAT, Shriver not only nails the expected pain and grief of terminal illness, childhood disease, sexual angst and financial roulette, but also brings out their absurdity.

When Shepherd Knacker sells his handyman company (Knack of All Trades) for a cool million, he thinks he is about to realize his dream (he calls it The Afterlife): to retire to some third-world country where a well-stocked investment account can last pretty much forever. He and his wife, Glynis, have gone on "research" trips throughout their 26-year marriage, but she always finds some drawback. At 48, he can't wait any longer (he has been marking time, working as an underling at his former company and paying too much rent for a suburban house). One day he buys plane tickets to Africa. He is determined to go, with or without his family.
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71 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Brody TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
'So Much for That' by Lionel Shriver is a timely novel about the dire straits of our country's healthcare system. It is also a diatribe about our country's policies of taxation, what the average Joe gets in return for his taxes, and the government's rip-off of average tax payers. The novel does not spare the evils of the banking industry, corporate America, or the wealthy as they are vilified for creating an environment that harms poor workers and the middle class.

Shep had spent years building up his handyman business. It flourished, and when he sold it he received a million dollars. Naturally, close to one third of the gross payment went to the feds. Shep's dream was to use his money for what he called 'the Afterlife', his plan to settle on a remote island where he could live the rest of his days cheaply and well, utilizing the proceeds from his business. He hoped that his wife and son would join him but that remained up in the air. Meanwhile, until he could accomplish his dream of the Afterlife, he continued to work at his business, for the man to whom he'd sold it.

Just days before Shep plans to leave for an island near Zanzibar to spend the rest of his days, his wife, Glynis, is diagnosed with a rare and incurable type of cancer - peritoneal mesothelioma. It is caused by exposure to asbestos and Glynis figures that this exposure occurred from her exposure to Shep after he worked with asbestos or when she was an art student. She is angry at the world and not a pleasant woman. Her anger is not caused solely by the cancer; Glynis was always a difficult and angry person.

Shep doesn't realize that his medical benefits have been reduced to a pittance by the new owner of the company.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By M. Feldman VINE VOICE on November 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this novel for its willingness to blow up every cliché and pre-conceived notion and TV pundit talking point associated with illness, death, and the American health care industry. I also can't believe that "So much For That" will be very popular with readers because it so boldly dismantles a notion so many hold dear: the idea of The Good Death.

The ordeal of Glynis Knacker, a fifty-year old with a diagnosis of asbestos-related cancer and access to the best care a cut-rate medical plan and her husband's sizable savings account can buy, is rendered with such detail and authority that it is as if Lionel Shriver had drawn aside a curtain to make us look at details we know are true even as we wish they weren't. Here is the World Wellness Group, a health insurance company whose minions are more concerned with denying coverage than providing it and who specialize in putting claimants on HOLD. Here are the hospital's indecipherable bills and codes for sums that bear no relationship to goods one might buy in any other marketplace. Here is the cancer specialist who speaks in military language and who sees a refusal to pursue a last-ditch, likely-to-fail drug regimen as a "defeat." Then there are Glynis's friends and family, most of whom begin to keep their distance as she becomes more ill, even though they always "mean" to visit. Finally, there is Glynis's refusal to embrace her fate and submit to the false spirituality everyone tries to impose upon her. As her disease progresses, she becomes ever more angry and difficult to live with.

As if this weren't enough, the portrait of Flicka, a teenager born with a terminal wasting disease, is stunning. I have never read any account, fiction or non-fiction, of the complex care of a handicapped child that is as true as this one.
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