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 grown siblings last saw one another, the once slim, hip New York jazz pianist has gained hundreds of pounds. What happened?
Worse, Edison's slovenly habits, appalling diet, and know-it-all monologues drive her health-and-fitness freak husband Fletcher insane. After the big blowhard of a brother-in-law has more than overstayed his welcome, Fletcher delivers his wife an ultimatum: it's him or me.
Putting her marriage and two adoptive children on the line, Pandora chooses her brother -- who, without her support in losing weight, will surely eat himself into an early grave.
Big Brother tackles a constellation of issues surrounding obesity: why we overeat, whether extreme diets ever work in the long run, and how we treat overweight people.
Read Caroline Baum's Review:
You know that if Lionel Shriver is going to tackle obesity she's going to do it head on, without pulling any punches. It's a very personal subject, given that her own brother was morbidly obese before his early death. Lean and fit herself, she brings a sinewy tone to her prose. Her narrator is as harsh, mocking and unsympathetic as we have come to expect. Pandora is all sharp elbows and sarcasm, a successful businesswoman who makes bespoke talking dolls, married to an equally angular furniture maker. When her obese jazz player brother comes to stay and takes over the kitchen to make giant fry ups, tensions between the couple erupt and Pandora leaves, determined to save her brother from himself. A topical comical modern day fable written with Shriver's characteristic ferocity and unforgiving psychological insight into the unappealing aspects of human nature.
About the Author
Lionel Shriver's novels include the National Book Award finalist So Much for That, the New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday World, and the international bestseller 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.
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Comments about Big Brother:
An good read - disturbing, unsettling and addictive. Couldn't wait to get back to it each day. An excellent comment on the current fascination with food fads, diets and gourmet home cooking. Made me research Lionel Shriver and her brother too. She's an unusual woman.
Only disappointment was the confusing, anticlimax ending. Also found it difficult to believe that the narrator's husband would tolerate such an artificial situation. Still recommend it though as a thought provoking read.
Comments about Big Brother:
This is the only book that I have read that addresses obesity with current societal views...engaging, enraging, painful, sad, and confronting. Brilliantly written as only Shriver can, with. ferocity and honesty. It is a book that I hope doctors, nurses, nutritionists, parents, teachers....all of us, should read. Obesity is set to become the western world's biggest health issue....we need to learn how and why, and what we can do about it as a community.....we can no longer ignore it as "not our problem".
Number Of Pages: 448
Published: 18th April 2013
Dimensions (cm): 23.3 x 15.2 x 2.9
Weight (kg): 0.43