July 11

Big Brother by Lionel Shriver

If you are in a book club, you need to workshop this book around a very large platter of triple cream cheese, pate and nuts and then see who dares to partake. It is perfect book club fodder in every sense.  Firstly, it is written by the highly credible and well respected author of  “We Need to Talk about Kevin”; Lionel Shriver.  If you have read that book, you will know instantly why I wanted to read this one so much.  If you haven’t read it you have to take a deep breath, get to the bookshop and clear your diary for the next two days straight.  You will love it.  But that is another story.

Big Brother is Lionel Shriver’s follow up novel and there are several common themes in her writing.   She is clearly fascinated by modern American culture and in this book she explores the topic of obesity when her elder brother takes on the kind of weight that creates problems even in the weight tolerant mid-west.  This book is so much cleverer than it appears and left me thinking about how society judges the obese, what responsibilities people have to help those who have eaten more than their fair share of pizza, is obesity a choice or affliction and is it something that can ever be cured?  Interestingly, the book also points a bit of a battered fish finger at the food snobs and fitness obsessed.

Half way through I was throwing it down and muttering “as if” type messages to myself and just like with “We need to talk about Kevin” there was a point where the premise was barely credible.  However, I was still hooked and managed to push through to the point where the story didn’t really matter too much.  It was the questions posed that kept me going and I recommend it on that basis.

And that is my 2 cents.