Big Brother: A Novel (P.S.)
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Big Brother is a striking novel about siblings, marriage, and obesity from Lionel Shriver, the acclaimed author the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin.
For Pandora, cooking is a form of love. Alas, her husband, Fletcher, a self-employed high-end cabinetmaker, now spurns the “toxic” dishes that he’d savored through their courtship, and spends hours each day to manic cycling. Then, when Pandora picks up her older brother Edison at the airport, she doesn’t recognize him. In the years since they’ve seen one another, the once slim, hip New York jazz pianist has gained hundreds of pounds. What happened? After Edison has more than overstayed his welcome, Fletcher delivers his wife an ultimatum: It’s him or me.
Rich with Shriver’s distinctive wit and ferocious energy, Big Brother is about fat: an issue both social and excruciatingly personal. It asks just how much sacrifice we'll make to save single members of our families, and whether it's ever possible to save loved ones from themselves.
residence for twenty years.” “No . . .” Oliver took a seat at the table. “Is he seeing anybody?” “Not that I know of, and I’m sure he’d tell me. He hasn’t brought anyone over since that one-night stand during the flood. It’s as if he was making sure the equipment was still in order, like getting your car inspected once a year. Maybe he’s not ready.” “Why should he ever be ready? What could he find in some strange woman that he doesn’t have now?” “Sex, obviously. Our relationship
hard part,’ and now being a normal-size person is ‘the really hard part.’ Man, talk about a moving target. No matter what I do, the ‘really hard part’ is still glooming down the road. You gotta lighten up, babe. As a coach, you might figure out a better motivating strategy than unrelenting dread.” “All right. Let’s plan something to look forward to, then. We should have a party. To celebrate. A Coming of Size party.” “Now you’re talkin’.” We consulted the calendar. In Month Eleven,
Cutting a warmer, springier slant through the blinds, sun shafted across Edison’s head, flashing on cheeks whose high bones were once the defining structure of his face. In concert with the wild, irradiated hair, those hillocks rising over concave hollows had helped to explain why so many of my junior high girlfriends were eager to drop by our house in Tujunga Hills—in the hopes that my loping, too-cool-for-school older brother with his low-slung jeans and collar open to the sternum would nod
Oliver. I’d first hired him to help with prep early in the Breadbasket days, when he’d needed some extra cash while earning his engineering degree at the University of Iowa. Somewhere in there we went out for about six months, and when I concluded that my feelings for him were a little too round, too muffled—too mild and edgeless, without some crucial sharpness, tension, or resistance that I later found in surplus with Fletcher—he accepted the rejection with the same natural equanimity that had
would you want to sell millions of people on the illusion that they knew you, when they didn’t? I adored the fortification of proper strangers, whose blithe disinterest constituted a form of protection, a soft, oblivious aspic of apathy in which I could hide, like a square of fruit cocktail in strawberry Jell-O. How raw and exposing instead to be surrounded by strangers who want something from you, who believe they not only know but own you. I couldn’t imagine why you’d want droves of nitpickers