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Big Brother

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Big Brother Cover

ISBN13: 9780061458576
ISBN10: 0061458570
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From the acclaimed author of the National Book Award finalist So Much for That and the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin comes a striking new novel about siblings, marriage, and obesity.

When Pandora picks up her older brother Edison at her local Iowa airport, she literally doesn't recognize him. In the four years since the siblings last saw each other, the once slim, hip New York jazz pianist has gained hundreds of pounds. What happened?

And it's not just the weight. Imposing himself on Pandora's world, Edison breaks her husband Fletcher's handcrafted furniture, makes overkill breakfasts for the family, and entices her stepson not only to forgo college but to drop out of high school.

After the brother-in-law has more than overstayed his welcome, Fletcher delivers his wife an ultimatum: It's him or me. Putting her marriage and adopted family on the line, Pandora chooses her brother—who, without her support in losing weight, will surely eat himself into an early grave.

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 we'll sacrifice to rescue single members of our families, and whether it's ever possible to save loved ones from themselves.

Review:

"Shriver (We Need to Talk About Kevin) returns to the family in this intelligent meditation on food, guilt, and the real (and imagined) debts we owe the ones we love. Ex-caterer Pandora has made it big with a custom doll company that creates personal likenesses with pull-string, sometimes crude, catch phrases. The dolls speak to the condition of these characters — all trapped in destructive relationships with food (and each other): Pandora cooks to show love, to the delight of her compulsively fit husband Fletcher, whose refusal to eat diary or vary from his biking routine are the outward manifestation of his remove. Pandora's brother Edison eats to ease the pain of a stalled music career and broken marriage. And both live somewhat uncomfortably in the shadow of their father's TV fame. In Big Brother, nothing reveals character more scathingly than food. Early in the book, the nearly 400-pound Edison arrives — waddling through an Iowa airport with a 'ground eating galumph' — a man transformed in the four years since his sister last saw him. He brings the novel energy as well as an occasionally unpalatable maudlin drama. But Pandora will risk everything, including her own health, to save him. If this devotion and Pandora's increasing success with Edison's diet plan sometimes seem chirpily false, a late reveal provides devastating justification. Agent: Kim Witherspoon, Inkwell Management. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

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 hed 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 doesnt recognize him. In the years since theyve 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: Its him or me.

Rich with Shrivers 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.

About the Author

Lionel Shriver's novels include The New Republic, the National Book Award finalist So Much for That, the New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday World, and the Orange Prize winner We Need to Talk About Kevin. Her journalism has appeared in the Guardian, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. She lives in London and Brooklyn, New York.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

kalireads, June 30, 2014 (view all comments by kalireads)
Oh, the banes of this human form: the never-ending maintenance our bodies require, the obligatory strings attached through bloodlines to those we must care for or neglect. In her most recent novel, Big Brother, Lionel Shriver asks the question, “How do we eat?” and finds the answer to be a resounding “not well.”

When Pandora, former catering whiz and expert chef, arrives at the airport to pick up her big brother for a visit, she’s shocked to see much more of the man than she used to know. Her brother has morphed into that class of people politely termed “morbidly obese,” more simply called very, very fat. Thus begins big brother Edison’s bull-in-a-china-shop visit with Pandora and her family, consisting of a series of startling cracks resonating through the home as things break, and never-ending awkward moments as huge amounts of food disappear from the fridge, as peanuts dropped on the floor are clambered after.

What makes Shriver a good, if inconsistent, author to me is her ability to examine the least human parts of our experiences together. She questioned the roles of motherhood in her school shooting shocker We Need To Talk About Kevin, as a mother struggles to feel love for her dark, cruel son. And again, Shriver explores these limits of love and the obligations of family in Big Brother. The novel’s harsh characterizations of both the obsessively skinny and the overweight, its low boil of family tension bubbling up unbearably high, to resonant and unforgettable meltdowns (“…when I polish off a doughnut, that’s not doing anything to you!” Edison shouts at Pandora’s health-nut husband, at one point), seems reminiscent of what made We Need To Talk About Kevin so lulling and irresistible, so accurate in its unpleasantness, so precise in its displays of how we can fail in relationships, and how we can fail ourselves.

The accuracy here comes from intimate knowledge of the subject matter. Although unaware of this until done with the book and researching for this review, Shriver tells the New York Times Magazine that she has a strict diet and exercise regimen herself. She eats one meal a day, and runs 10 miles a day. She also had an obese brother who died young, at age 55. Tragically, much of this book seems to be inspired by our real life struggles to find contentment in eating when surrounded with abundance. As Pandora notes in the book, and any addict can understand, “The most sumptuous experience of ingestion is in-between: remembering the last bite and looking forward to the next one.”
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Pegasc, July 7, 2013 (view all comments by Pegasc)
Family dynamics are always complicated, but when one sibling decides to "fix" another it gets even trickier. Throw in a disenchanted husband and rebellious step kids and the mixture becomes one of human drama played on an all too common stage. With today's obesity crisis, Lionel Shriver has focused realistically on the causes and effects of such condition without simplifying its diagnosis or solution. This is a thought-provoking and entertaining read.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780061458576
Author:
Shriver, Lionel
Publisher:
Harper
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literature-Family Life
Subject:
Literary
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20130631
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 0.97 in 17.78 oz

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Family Life

Big Brother Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.50 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Harper - English 9780061458576 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Shriver (We Need to Talk About Kevin) returns to the family in this intelligent meditation on food, guilt, and the real (and imagined) debts we owe the ones we love. Ex-caterer Pandora has made it big with a custom doll company that creates personal likenesses with pull-string, sometimes crude, catch phrases. The dolls speak to the condition of these characters — all trapped in destructive relationships with food (and each other): Pandora cooks to show love, to the delight of her compulsively fit husband Fletcher, whose refusal to eat diary or vary from his biking routine are the outward manifestation of his remove. Pandora's brother Edison eats to ease the pain of a stalled music career and broken marriage. And both live somewhat uncomfortably in the shadow of their father's TV fame. In Big Brother, nothing reveals character more scathingly than food. Early in the book, the nearly 400-pound Edison arrives — waddling through an Iowa airport with a 'ground eating galumph' — a man transformed in the four years since his sister last saw him. He brings the novel energy as well as an occasionally unpalatable maudlin drama. But Pandora will risk everything, including her own health, to save him. If this devotion and Pandora's increasing success with Edison's diet plan sometimes seem chirpily false, a late reveal provides devastating justification. Agent: Kim Witherspoon, Inkwell Management. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , 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 hed 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 doesnt recognize him. In the years since theyve 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: Its him or me.

Rich with Shrivers 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.
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