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So Much for That

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3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,893 Ratings  ·  1,129 Reviews
After his wife is diagnosed with cancer, Shep Knacker sees his dream of retiring to a developing country slip away, along with all the money in his once-plentiful bank account, as he tries to navigate America's labyrinthine health-care system.
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Published 2010 by HarperCollins
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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B the BookAddict
May 25, 2016 B the BookAddict rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: highly recommended
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Goodreads
Shelves: literary-fiction


A powerful novel with some pretty tough issues; cancer, FD (familial dysautonomia), suicide and the health care system in America. Although that all sounds pretty bleak, remember Lionel Shriver usually does offer a mostly sober read. That is not to say the novel is all bleak; it is not. While the book is mostly dialogue, it is really strong dialogue from all characters, a couple of the characters do possess a very satiric attitude and that makes for some humorous reading. A long novel with some
...more
Will Byrnes
Feb 04, 2015 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-health
Lionel Shriver has written a very grown-up story that deals with serious subjects in a serious way. Shepherd Knacker has been saving all his life for what he calls the “Afterlife,” retirement to some sort of desert isle, away from the world in which he must work in order to finance his dream. But his plans hit a snag when his wife, Glynis, is diagnosed with a particularly virulent strain of cancer. His best friend, Jackson, has a teenage child with a rare genetic disease and the clear prospect o ...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Left it at p. 46 and turned my attention to something else, thinking it was maybe my mood influencing the strong negative reaction I was having. Alas, no. Abandoned at p. 66. Those last twenty pages contained more hyperbole, overblown language, pontificating and exposition than I could stomach.

This is the speech Glynis makes to her husband, Shep, after a medical appointment during which she's learned that asbestos is likely the cause of her cancer -- asbestos her husband most likely brought hom
...more
Kinga
Jun 14, 2012 Kinga rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Oh, how I wanted to like this book. How I wanted to like Lionel Shriver! Alas, Lionel Shriver is not a very likeable writer.

"So Much For That" is about Shep who has been saving all his life so he can retire early to run away to a place where people bask in the sun and live on a dollar per day and he is now ready to go. And then his wife goes and spoils it all by saying something stupid like 'I have cancer'. So rather than living on a dollar a day, they live on a few thousand a day covering all t
...more
Alecia
Mar 23, 2010 Alecia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are parts of this book that I would actually rate no more than 2 stars. Sometimes the writing gets overwrought, awkward, and has the characters thinking or talking about the healthcare system or other issues in a preachy, pedantic way. But, in the end, the powerful writing and subject matter of the book impelled me to give it 4 stars (which, as one can see by my list, I do not give easily).

If you want to read a gifted writer describe how it is to be a terminally ill patient, a husband/car
...more
Leo Robertson
Dec 03, 2015 Leo Robertson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
POW POWPOW Holy shit, this book!!

I guess I’m not all that surprised at my reversal of star rating from 2* to 5*. Last I attempted this I was having existential crises twice a week, in the air space between Stavanger and London, while drinking too much, in the winter, alone. (On a plane I should point out. I have never personally achieved flight.) So when it came to a book about death and taxes, I had NIL emotional capacity. This left me in the most dangerous state of all when trying to read a no
...more
Wanda
Shriver has produced a disquieting book, but for me ultimately satisfying. There are so many inter-related issues swirling around in it that it’s hard to get a grip on any one thing. But I’ll try to share some of my thoughts.

Number one, I’m so grateful to live in a country where a life-threatening illness won’t bankrupt me. Not to say that there are no expenses involved, but certainly not the bloodletting that happens in the United States. Yes, I’m Canadian and I will be staying here, thankyouve
...more
Judith
Apr 05, 2011 Judith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a compelling story this is! I picked it up late last night and couldn't put it down till I fell asleep at 3 a.m. Then got up and couldn't do anything till I finished the book. The hero of this book is a hardworking long-suffering everyman whose lifelong dream to get away from it all is about to be realized. After scrimping and saving his whole life he finally has the funds and the guts to leave New York with his wife and son and move to a tropical island where he hopes to live the simple li ...more
Denise
Fictionalized account of lived experience of life threatening and chronic illness within America's health system. At the risk of leaving nothing to inference the author has made some of the dialogues/monologue on health care somewhat overbearing and put-on. At times this can be irritating. But I have to say that the issues are real, the character's situations seem real and the fault in health care are wide. The upbeat ending makes for a fairytale which few are fortunate to experience. Thoroughly ...more
Carol
Apr 04, 2010 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shepherd Knacker is a protagonist after my own heart, the kind of guy who works hard, pays his bills, pays a lot of his relatives' bills, takes care of his family and defers his dreams. He wants to escape the rat-race but his wife is diagnosed with cancer and he needs his health insurance. Or does he? The book is unsparing and clear about issues needing discussing, including, just how much health insurance (and Medicare) do NOT pay for, and, just how oncology gives patients awful treatments that ...more
Joe
Apr 06, 2010 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2010
I stayed up past midnight to finish the book, which tells you how much I cared about these characters. And I keep dwelling on the messages in the book today, namely:

What would I do if a family member got sick?
What would I want my friends and family to do if I got sick?
What is the proper relationship between healthcare and a functioning, moral society?

The novel appears to start off as a jeremiad, and maybe even just a vehicle for a political opinion, but launches from there to something much bi
...more
Kate
Feb 28, 2011 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have truly loved Lionel Shriver's past novels, but now wonder if she isn't a lot like the hand-walking queer (that character in Beaches who does all kinds of freak circus tricks to wow the crowds on the boardwalk) or that friend you make on the first day of school who you have to shrug off in mid-October because they have become so annoying and demanding. So shrill! So showy! So longwinded! I would tell my Mom NOT to invite her for another play date.

So Much For That details two families' slow
...more
Sheryl Sorrentino
Lionel Shriver is one of a small handful of authors whose work I consistently love—no matter how far one novel might stray from the next. In So Much for That, Shriver takes on midlife malaise, mesothelioma and the medical industry (and make no mistake, U.S. “health care” is all about industry). Her prose is scathing, angry, and unfailingly witty. I can see why certain other reviewers hated this book; it is admittedly depressing. Shriver’s characters are all unlikeable in one way or other, and at ...more
Nancy
May 25, 2010 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, fiction
Let me say up front, I am not recommending this book to anyone. I am not sure I exactly liked it, and I'm not sure who would be up for perhaps the most oxymoronic book I've read in awhile: a truly depressing page-turner. Add in that the ending is perhaps unearned, the author can tend toward polemic, pretty much none of the characters are likeable, and...yeah. It's a flawed book.

But there's a lot it gets right. How alone each person is when someone in a family gets cancer. How all of us dream of
...more
Elyse
Sep 14, 2011 Elyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is a book everyone could be talking about ---
The story is fiction, with compelling characters, yet the parts about the health care system is a decent representation of what is going on in this country today.
Parts of this book was difficult to read--yet impossible to put down--
with many tender at moments at times, too---mixed with dry humor.
It deals with marriage, illness, intimacy, shocking loss, friendships, family dynamics, disillusionment, betrayal, a range of emotions, love, death, choi
...more
Thomas Edmund
Sep 19, 2010 Thomas Edmund rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shriver is the absolute master of cliché.

I say this not because I believe she is some hack, or indeed is a writer of cliché. But, based on her hard-hitting We Need to Talk About Kevin, and her latest So Much for That I see Shriver as able to manipulate cliché, stereotype and formula to make something much much more meaningful.

The story begins with rich in money but not life Sheppard Knack, preparing to up and leave his home for a life less-complicated in a 3rd world country. His plans derail in
...more
Cait
I don't think Shriver meant to describe her own book with the following passage, but she did:

"Remember how sometimes, in the middle, a movie seems to drag? I get restless, and take a leak, or go for popcorn. But sometimes, the last part, it heats up, and then right before the credits one of us starts to cry - well , then you forget about the crummy middle, don't you? YOu don't care about the fact that it started slow, or had some plot twist along the way that didn't scan. Because it moved you, b
...more
Karen
Sep 23, 2011 Karen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am shocked by the accolades this book has received. There were parts of the book that were enjoyable and surprising, particularly the ending, but reading this novel was immensely painful, primarily because almost all of the characters were unlikeable, self-pitying, cynical, self-absorbed, and simply unbearable. I realize that to some degree this was the point -- the characters are supposed to be "human" and flawed -- but their extreme lack of empathy for others actually made them seem like car ...more
Britta Böhler
Jul 23, 2016 Britta Böhler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favs, 2016, kindle
Before I read this book I never would have thought that a rare cancer and an even rater genetic disorder plus the ins and outs of the US-American health insurance system would make for a moving, witty and engaging novel. But they do.
Aleeda
Aug 11, 2011 Aleeda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am so glad I finished 2010 with this book rather than starting 2011 finishing it. For me it was one long, rant. An eloquent rant, but tiresome after the first 100 pages. The main focus of the rant is healthcare in the country, and I would be the first, from firsthand experience, to agree with many of the arguments. Still, I have personally found that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

Shep has finally reached an enviable position: he has enough money, and foresight in pl
...more
Ian Mapp
Oct 21, 2010 Ian Mapp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Think this is my book of the year.

I loved it - the characterisation, story, social commentary and wit that can only be described as Acerbic.

Shep is a great character. He has done everything by the book in his life - starting his own business, looking after family - which is extended beyond his kids and parents to even his sister - a rock, who pays for everything.

Through selling his own business (and soul, by working for the man he sold to) he has amassed a tidy sum to pay for his retirement in h
...more
Angela
Feb 25, 2010 Angela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indiespensable
Like Shriver's previous novel, The Post-Birthday World , the end result often doesn't change based on our actions; it's the journey there that allows us to subtly impose our own will. In So Much For That, she's tackled modern health care, and despite a lot of polemic ranting that caused me to put the book down for a few days around page 75 and read something else, rallies by the end to produce one of the more honest and powerful books about terminal disease I've ever read.

Shep is the responsib
...more
Jamie Bradway
Mar 03, 2011 Jamie Bradway rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Masochists
Shelves: abandoned, tob-2011
I didn't earn the right to claim that this book is horrible. I did earn the right to say that the first third is, though. I can't go on.

Except for Shep, the characters in this novel are loathsome, nasty people. Glynis, Shep's wife and cancer patient, is weaponized, revealing her disease to friends and family in the ways that will hurt them the deepest. And reveling in the pain she causes. I can only believe that the author is deliberately challenging my compassion; can I bring to the surface sym
...more
Tim
Jul 04, 2011 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lionel Shriver's novel "So Much for That" successfully negotiates the tightrope walk of graphically, realistically presenting the horror of fatal disease but not allowing the book to be a complete downer. It's nice work.

Shriver tends not to bother avoiding overkill in her stories, and she doesn't here. Her characters get on their soap boxes, trading barbs and banter and scathing diatribes about whatever bee the author has in her bonnet at the moment. I have no problem with opinions and indictmen
...more
Rachael Preston
Goodness, what a lot of words. I picked this book up because I enjoyed "We Need to Talk About Kevin." A lot. There was a tension, a suspense, in that book that was sorely missing here. It's good writing, and in a lot of ways the book reminded me of Jonathan Franzen, in its inclusiveness, and the author's desire to have a say on every position on every issue--politics, healthcare, the environment--that people get impassioned about. But it wasn't Franzen, if you know what I mean. It was too much. ...more
M
May 07, 2010 M rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books where you feel bad that you opened it, because it seems like all kinds of heinous things happen to the people inside as soon as you do.
The word I would use to describe this book is brutal. Shriver holds no punches, nor do her characters, in delving into the gritty and often uncomfortable details of everything from cancer to health insurance to surgery gone wrong.
In graphic detail and at times exhaustively so, Shriver portrays two couples who struggle with a close relat
...more
Marty
Mar 19, 2010 Marty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: harpercollins, 2010
I think Lionel Shriver is a fantastic writer - We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Post Birthday World are two of my favorite books. This one, while still good, just isn't great.

The book is about the American health care system and how much it sucks. There are four medical crises in the novel, each of which cause total destruction to families' finances despite the fact that all of the sick people actually have health insurance.

Now, when I'm reading it (being a liberal and all), Shriver is preac
...more
David Harris
Aug 25, 2013 David Harris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel highlights the barbaric and unsustainable system of health insurance in the US. It's long and the text is dense, so it takes a bit of discipline to get through it. But it's well worth it.
Magdelanye
gut wrenching, in your face, a serious and occasionally hilarious exploration of intimacy, reality, integrity and death.
review pending
Gisela Hafezparast
Mar 16, 2016 Gisela Hafezparast rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book and I feel it is one of Lionel Shriver's best. For me, as a European, it describes not only the "American Health System" and people's attitudes through the life of what I would call "two ordinary guys" and their families, one with a disabled child and one with a wife who has been diagnosed with what turns out to be terminal cancer. It clearly depicts what it means to be in these situation in the USA (which still is the most powerful country in the world, not to forget). As a Eu ...more
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Lionel Shriver's novels include the New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday World and the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin, which won the 2005 Orange Prize and has now sold over a million copies worldwide. Earlier books include Double Fault, A Perfectly Good Family, and Checker and the Derailleurs. Her novels have been translated into twenty-five languages. Her journalism h ...more
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“What would I like to get away from? Complexity. Anxiety. A feeling I've had my whole life that at any given time there's something I'm forgetting, some detail or chore, something that I'm supposed to be doing or should have already done. That nagging sensation - I get up with it, I go through the day with it, I go to sleep with it. When I was a kid, I had a habit of coming home from school on Friday afternoons and immediately doing my homework. So I'd wake up on Saturday morning with this wonderful sensation, a clean, open feeling of relief and possibility and calm. There'd be nothing I had to do. Those Saturday mornings, they were a taste of real freedom that I've hardly ever experienced as an adult. I never wake up in Elmsford with the feeling that I've done my homework.” 14 likes
“I have never in all my life considered you other people.” 8 likes
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