Monday, October 21, 2013

Big Brother by Lionel Shriver

In Big Brother, Pandora is sandwiched (pun intended) between a manic cycling, health food eating husband, Fletcher, and a grossly obese brother, Edison. When Edison moves in with the family, tensions run high. He pretty much overtakes the whole house not just with his size, but his large personality and stories of his past accomplishments and adventures. His eating is totally out of control and Pandora decides this has to change. At the risk of losing her family, she rents an apartment for herself and Edison and helps him lose the weight.

I just love Shriver's work. While this one isn't my favourite of hers, I really, really enjoyed it. The cast of characters is eclectic and absurd: Fletcher, a builder of unique custom made furniture and fanatic cyclist; Pandora, a manufacturer of wacky dolls; Edison, a jazz musician; Travis, Pandora's and Edison's father, a TV host, and Tanner and Cody, Pandora's and Fletcher's kids. They seemed pretty normal next to everyone else in the cast, however, they too had their problems.

I've struggled with my weight most of my life so the story resonated with me. Even though their experience is very different from mine, I enjoyed reading about their story. I never have and never would attempt a crash diet like they did. Also, Edison's pre-diet bingeng sort of surprised me. I have a healthy appetite, but bingeing isn't something I've ever done, at least not to this extent.

I loved reading Pandora's point of view on her weight loss. Her weight was an issue for her, but she really didn't have that much to lose. Why she chose a crash diet is beyond me? Perhaps it was to support her brother, which was admirable, but perhaps not that realistic. Shriver's whole portrayal of Pandora was insightful and fascinating.

The book contained a few noteworthy quotes:
I believed...that the number of that dial [of the scale] was a verdict on my very character. It appraised whether I was strong, whether I was self-possessed, whether I was someone anyone else would conceivably wish to be. (from Pandora, page 230)
"Put that on my gravestone", said Edison. It hasn't all totally completely sucked. (page 310)
While I enjoyed the book, I admit that the ending had me baffled. It was just so unexpected and confusing. I don't want to say any more than that.

I've read a few other books by Shriver. Here are links to my reviews: The Post-Birthday World, We Need to Talk About Kevin, and So Much for That. I really enjoyed them all.

Highly recommended. I have a few other books by Shriver on my to-be-read shelf that I hope to get to sooner or later. I admire Shriver and her strong opinions on social issues. I don't always agree with her, but I love that she isn't afraid to make a statement.

For more information about this book, please visit the HarperCollins website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins for this review copy.

Big Brother by Lionel Shriver, HarperCollins, ©2013. ISBN 9780061458576(Trade paperback), 373p.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate it. Unfortunately, I've been getting lots of spam comments, so I'm turning on word verification to help keep spammers away. I know it's a pain; I don't like it either. Hopefully, in time I'll be able to turn it off again. Thank you!