Wednesday, July 31, 2013

So Much For That - Lionel Shriver

Liked it overall.. although its a prime example of one of the formats of writing/movies that I really avoid - one in which we can see the protagonist going down a spiral.. I've always disliked the sinking feeling one gets as you see someone getting sucked into the quagmire..

A middle aged family man in America has always dreamed of 'getting away' to a place where life is simpler and the cost of living much lower, primarily on converting the famed US dollar. But just when it looks like he might just act on the dream, he's confronted with his wife's diagnosis of mesothelioma, and the reality of healthcare costs and insurance in the land of plenty. What does this do to him? To the dream? To the marriage? What is the cost of a human life? The value? How would you calculate the cost and expense and value..of living for an additional 3 months? Why are we not allowed to ask that, when the lawyers can, at settlements and divorces and what not?

Perhaps the book left a stronger impact, since one of the biggest shocks I got after coming here was the unexpected cost of a small bottle of 30 vitamins. It was quite clear that for that cost, one could get all the  fruits and nuts with those vitamins, for a month. Why then was it priced so exorbitantly, specially after a hefty insurance premium? I really don't know. Costs of research, the overhead of bureaucracy, the problems of capitalism, all weigh in, but it remains a complicated question. I've heard horror stories from UK, about the NHS, and of course having lived in India, with its own multiple healthcare options and their pros and cons, I'm not sure I'm any wiser to solutions.

At any rate, for such a gritty book, I was happy with the ending.. sometimes one doesn't need unmitigated reality all the time! 

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