2010 National Book Award Finalist,

Lionel Shriver

So Much For That

Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers

Photo credit: Eva Vermandel


Shep Knacker has long saved for "The Afterlife": an idyllic retreat to the Third World where his nest egg can last forever. Traffic jams on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway will be replaced with "talking, thinking, seeing, and being" and enough sleep.

When he sells his home repair business for a cool million dollars, his dream finally seems within reach. Yet Glynis, his wife of twenty-six years, has concocted endless excuses why it's never the right time to go. Weary of working as a peon for the jerk who bought his company, Shep announces he's leaving for a Tanzanian island, with or without her.

Just returned from a doctor's appointment, Glynis has some news of her own: Shep can't go anywhere because she desperately needs his health insurance.


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 journalism has appeared in the Guardian, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. She divides her time between London and Brooklyn.


Lionel Shriver's Wikipedia entry

Lionel Shriver's webpage on HarperCollins' Website


FROM Chapter 10

Eventually it was Glynis who’d had to importune that he stop handling her like china. She had indeed come to seem breakable to him, and under the influence of Alimta she was literally bruisable, so that when he did as she requested she woke the next morning with thumb-shaped purple blotches on her thighs.

The thing was, he knew that he loved her in that finer way. But as much as he relished the mingling of the two, he knew also that this physical desire was separate—a distinct wanting that had to do with line and shape and color, with breasts and hair and smell. It did not have to do with her dry sense of humor, her slyness, the beguiling barbarity of her character. It did not have to do with her willfulness, her infuriating self-destructiveness, or her spiritual alliance with the metal. It didn’t even have to do with her sorely under-utilized aesthetic talent. It had to do with the proportions of her legs, her long waist, her tiny, hard-muscled ass. It had to do with her dark, secret, forested cunt. For years he had privately anguished about her pending old age—the prospect of which was now a luxury. Inevitably, then, since January he had privately anguished about cancer. He was too attracted to his wife, but he was used to being too attracted, and if all that was left was the nice love, the warm appreciative admiring love without the gutter love, the unseemly, sordid animal love, he would feel lesser, and the love would feel lesser, in its very purity and high-mindedness and mere goodness smaller and less interesting and less addictive. He did not want to stop being attracted to his wife. It was not easy to face, but for 26 years he had not only loved a woman. He had loved a body.