Big Brother – Lionel Shriver – Quotes

Just a quick selection of sentences that caught my attention, on family and on our relationship with food. Enjoy and let me know what you think in comments!
Do you think we know how to eat or is it something we lost and need to learn again?
How much do we owe to other members of our family? Is there any limit?

In the same style in which he’d schemed to succeed, so also would he fail: on a grand scale.

But I felt I’d done my bit, you see. I thought my whole family had more than done its bit.
Only in retrospect do I appreciate that this “doing your bit” is a deadly misapprehension of the nature of familial ties. Better understanding them now, I find blood relationships rather frightening. What is wonderful about kinship is also what is horrible about it: there is no line in the sand, no natural limit to what these people can reasonably expect of you.

I now recognize that responsibility, once assumed, cannot be readily repudiated – not without doing so much damage in the process of its abdication that you might better have never assumed the responsibility in the first place.

Maybe the greatest favor a spouse can tender is to overlook what you can’t.

Brisk efficiency was the ticket – the bright, blithe, unbothered spirit in which our mother had changed our sheets when we wet the bed. It is a female knack, this contending with effluents quickly and in goo cheer, thus minimizing disgrace down to the routine untidiness of a dropped napkin.

By then I was accustomed to controlling the flow of information, a nice way of saying that I had grown chronically dishonest with everyone.

the more I chewed, the more bewildered I grew by how this fleeting, unseizable pleasure had so enslaved my countrymen that many of us were willing to disgrace ourselves for it; demoralize ourselves for it; demolish a host o other pleasures for it, like running and dancing and sex; destroy this very pleasure itself in its pursuit – for every tidbit I’d consumed since putting on weight had been contaminated with an acrid aftertaste of selfreproach; and even, in extreme cases like the one my brother was fast becoming, die for it. The mystery was oppressive. 

My first reaction on sitting down to a meal was panic.
I wasn’t alone in this hysteria. You could see the same frenzy all over the Internet: diatribes about sugar, clever tips about using tiny plates or drinking lots of water, profiles on celebrities who claim to have “eighty meals a day,” the charts listing the glycemic index of parsnips and potatoes. You could see it in the accelerating demand for extra-wide caskets, roller coasters enforced with I-beams, and elevators redesigned to carry twice the load. You could see it in burgeoning retail sales for “bountiful” apparel, in the return of the corset. You could see it in the market for airline seatbelt extenders, “Big John” toilet seats, 800-pound-rated shower chairs, and “LuvSeats” for 
couples of size to have sex. You could see it in popular websites like, but you could also see it in the prestige designations of size-zero jeans and in the host of Cody’s classmates who’d been hospitalized for starving or throwing up. You couldn’t help but wonder what earthly good was a microprocessor, a space telescope, or a particle accelerator, when we had mislaid the most animal of masteries. Why bother to discover the Higgs boson or solve the economics of hydrogen-powered cars? We no longer knew how to eat.

My review of Big Brother

Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska @ vkphotospace

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