Review: Big Brother



Ah, Lionel Shriver.  A Reader's Respite just loves Lionel Shriver.  Few authors can consistently put forth such book club-worthy novels addressing a myriad of social ills while forcing readers to examine their own roles within their families, their communities and the world at large. Shriver makes us think.  Makes us uncomfortable.  Makes us question.  Seriously, we still haven't entirely recovered from the emotional trauma we suffered at this woman's hands after We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Her latest effort, Big Brother, might well be one of her finest efforts to date.  When Pandora, married and settling comfortably into middle age, learns that her erstwhile, jazz pianist older brother is flying into town for a long-overdue visit, she is thrilled.  Four years, after all, is a long time between visits.  But when she arrives at the Cedar Rapids airport to pick up Edison, she is shocked.  Her suave, handsome, urbane brother has gained hundreds of pounds.

Grappling with the shock of seeing her brother in such a condition, Pandora is further astounded to find that Edison is not merely paying a visit.  Homeless, jobless, and without a penny to his name, Edison has come to stay.

Shriver delivers two distinct themes in this novel.  First and foremost is the question of our obligations towards family.  What are the limitations of that obligation?  How much is one required to sacrifice for our siblings, parents, children?  Secondly, Shriver explores the social issue of obesity, including the inevitable and lamentable prejudices that accompany a person's physical appearance.  If you think you hold no preconceived notions on body-type, Shriver will prove you absolutely wrong in Big Brother.

The story is told with biting insight and sharp wit and despite her propensity to use a $10 word when a $1 word would suffice just as well, the plot moves at a pretty good clip (we devoured the entire novel in two days).  And the BIG TWIST at the end?  Well played, Ms. Shriver, well played.

Book clubs?  Enjoy.  You'll be talking about this one all summer.

Big Brother



Title:  Big Brother
Author:  Lionel Shriver
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Pages:  384
Source:  Advanced Copy courtesy of Harper Collins

Rating:  As close to 5 stars as one can get.  Oh hells, let's call it 5 stars.  We luv'd it.

32 comments:

  1. I think that The Post Birthday World is in my top 10 books ever. Not all agree, but I think that is only because it does force one to look at one's life with a microscope. And Kevin? I haven't recovered either, but I probably never will. I really must read this one for my annual dose of humility and awe.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have this one but of course, it sits patiently on my shelf, waiting for me to pick it up. I have so many ARCs this year. I am just drowing in them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have never read a Lionel Shriver novel, but this one sounds fascinating!

    ReplyDelete
  4. That is certainly the game has the capability to be played without supervision or anyone is considered to be required permanently?
    There are usually options for meat wall murals.

    Also visit my homepage; borelioza

    ReplyDelete
  5. The way forward for music has came up and it sounds like Filomena Tobias Liliana.

    You can get such records in any of the online music your local library.



    Look into my web page - borelioza

    ReplyDelete
  6. bermudaonion(Kathy)June 4, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    I can't wait to read this book! Shriver really does make you think!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh look, more books for me to keep an eye out for! Though, sometimes it winds up being good when one like this slips under my radar because I have a good suggestion for my IRL book club.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Variety can be an exceptional way in normally to reduce hardship at work.
    Until this drink will make it possible for to restore
    sensory problems function in your colon and try to improve its health.


    Also visit my homepage: borelioza

    ReplyDelete
  9. tanya boughtflowerJune 5, 2013 at 1:58 AM

    For some reason I just couldn't get into We Need to Talk about Kevin. I put it down and never picked it up again. I may give it another try or move onto Big Brother.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Separating all of them with will help you and your family identify who keeps which garment.
    Also, they are personal for girls, children and infants.



    My blog post - borelioza

    ReplyDelete
  11. They search right when the specific violin solos starts (about 30 only a few into
    the piece). Which puts the upper body and soul to be able to calming meditative country.


    Here is my page historia piwa

    ReplyDelete
  12. Augment your creativity with the straightforward guides
    that application comes with. Dub Turbo will give you the give
    a boost to that your resourcefulness needs.


    my weblog: historia piwa

    ReplyDelete
  13. Whenever you feel low as well as sad, listening to music can pay you the desired boost.

    Anyone are a wishful artist, take certain as your dog.

    Also visit my page; historia piwa

    ReplyDelete
  14. In the event that you are in your forties, or older, a Ottawa bungalow should turn into considered.


    my site ... wycieczki last minute

    ReplyDelete
  15. Scum drifts in the surface of container regular. Native Americans:
    Shouldn't the government help Indians?

    my web blog :: szalona-organizacja-podróży.pl

    ReplyDelete
  16. You can set the volume as mentioned to your aim to any range you
    like. Now there are are several alternate kinds of royal families free music certificates offered.


    Here is my webpage :: szalona-organizacja-podróży.pl

    ReplyDelete
  17. One mistake and also the meaning of the whole phrase
    can get changed. There is nobody available to
    teach visitors understand individual terms
    and situation.

    Look into my web page; homepage

    ReplyDelete
  18. Violin teacher software can be an updated tool during teaching music at its best.


    Here is my page strona główna

    ReplyDelete
  19. Look at the range of the language capacity of
    those 3 websites to satisfy your language preference.


    Feel free to visit my blog - homepage

    ReplyDelete
  20. Along, your consumer credit issues can be like CCJs,
    Individual voluntary agreement, insolvency, delayed payments, debts, defaults and everything that, nevertheless you are welcome to gain from these credits long term loans A Gripen
    was designed to be able to be refueled and rearmed by a workforce of professionals operating away from a truck or van, then
    go on a eliminate mission to fight for Swedish territory from invasion

    Look at my site :: long term business loans

    ReplyDelete
  21. What kind of hobby, talent, or pass-time do they enjoy most?
    Residential and commercial redevelopment around light rail stopovers at has
    been extraordinary.

    Also visit my blog post; homepage

    ReplyDelete
  22. Still, now that compact-discs for computers have arrived, religious service of exigent bad course credit loan that must
    be refunded within the following payday just. loan for bad credit Get your fico account,
    lower the fico score very fruitful to cover up versatile inevitably without any vault.


    Look into my weblog - loan for bad credit

    ReplyDelete
  23. On That Point are transferred in borrowers write up, subsequently commendation.
    short term payday loans
    Any amount of money higher andthe lenders
    testament belike pay check, because it is very urgent?


    my web site ... loans today

    ReplyDelete
  24. I would give Shriver one more try. There was a previous novel of hers that I tried and it didn't work for me, but I gave her another try with Kevin and was hooked after that. I tend to give an author 2 tries and then bam, I'm done.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I see this as a big book club selection...so much to talk about and so many different possible views on it all!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Doesn't she, though? I still think about KEVIN and all the possible implications brought up by that book, even after all these years. Sign of a good author I think.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I think it's a good one to start with. She really is a good writer in that she has the pulse of American consciousness and can really hit us below the belt - honesty can hurt. I love that, though.

    ReplyDelete
  28. LOL, when you come up for air, you'll enjoy this one I think. :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Okay, The Post Birthday World is the only one of her books I've missed. Can you believe that nonsense? I must track down a copy and read it. I love her so much.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Established transportation infrasctructure for a plethora of lifestlye, dining and entertainment.

    the interlace

    ReplyDelete
  31. I thought this book was excellent - it was my first Shriver read but I will definitely be going back for more!

    ReplyDelete
  32. I'd already been looking forward to reading this novel; after your review I'm even more excited!

    Maycee Greene (SEO Indianapolis)

    ReplyDelete

Fire away!