The Motion of the Body Through Space - Lionel Shriver

Posted On: Tuesday - November 30th 2021 8:01PM MST
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  Books  Healthcare Stupidity

Your Peak Stupidity blogger is no kind of literary scholar. I put these reviews up when I read books, often upon the suggestion of commenters here or on the Unz Review site. The case with author Mrs. Lionel Shriver is unusual, in that I have read a 3rd, and I believe newest (copy-written in '20) book of hers. I don't seek them out, but iSteve commenter International Jew suggested her newest book The Motion of the Body Through Space.

Peak Stupidity first learned of this excellent writer via a suggestion of her Prepper novel, The Mandibles by the esteemed John Derbyhire. I was so enamored with the book, as a valuable piece of work to possibly enlighten some non-aware readers to how likely the S will HTF, and how that could go down, that I wrote a 6-part review of this novel: Introduction - - Part 2 - - Part 3 - - Part 4 - - Part 5 - - and Conclusion . Hell, that review in total is about 1/3 as long as the book! It's the economic discussion and examples in the book that I liked the most.

Next, we featured a review of her dark suspense/drama novel of "kids gone wrong" called We Need to Talk About Kevin. Then, we featured a review of the movie too, with comparisons to the book.

BTW, the Good Reads site, the one linked to above for this book, has a list of Mrs. Shriver's books. It has reviews too. Since I found this site I've been using it instead of amazon for linking to info on books (though I imagine amazon will have many times more reviews for entertainment), and I've been using IMDB (the Internet Movie DataBase) for links to movies. Screw amazon AMAP. (OTOH, had owned by amazon at one point, or maybe still is)

Except for a small part that I'll get to later on, this 3rd Lionel Shriver book that I've read is not really in Peak Stupidity's wheelhouse. That doesn't mean it wasn't good reading though. I see that the author writes of what she experiences herself, and I think that is a good policy for a writer.* This seems to have been the case for The Mandibles, written about one of the oddest locations in which to base a prepper story, and We Need to Talk About Keven, at least in regards to the location again, along with her relationship to her husband. In The Motion of the Body Through Space, it's the same NYC area location, this time in the town of Hudson, 4 counties north of the city. Again, The New York Times is still somehow the be-all-to-end-all in important news of the world.

The story is about a late-middle-aged couple in which the wife, who is the narrator again, named Serenata Terpsichore**, has had to quit the exercising she had done her whole life due to bad knees (maybe caused by all that exercising?), while her husband, Remington Alabaster, suddenly took on a hobby of extreme exercise, since he had recently retired. Early in the story Serenata is not so much upset about Remington's new thing so much as miffed by it. The sees it all as a fad. (Again, it's kind of city folk, more specifically NY City, focused.) She had been expecting to spend more time with him, and now she is in no shape to spend all this time with him, even if she had wanted to. The situation just gets worse after Remington's finishing a marathon*** (he hadn't run at all in his life before this new hobby), because the crowd that he hangs out with now has goaded him into training for an Triathlon! (It's called the MettleMan event in the book.) The point at which Remington announces he will attempt this Triathlon is about 1/3 of the way through the novel. The rest of the novel, till the 11-page concluding "Afterword" chapter, is about the drama of the training and some action during the event itself in Lake Placid, New York.

This all sounds pretty boring, I'm guessing, at first read of this review. Lionel Shriver makes it into a good story, though, with lots of thoughts about the idea of trying to keep one's body in shape through this phase of life. The big argument back-and-forth among this local MettleMan group (who train together) is about whether this extreme exercise/training is worse for the body than taking it easy, as Serenata is forced to do. She takes the side of "worse" as she has a feeling that it's all the exercise she'd done in her life that has gotten her the major problems with her knees (requiring replacement surgery). Also she takes this side for the love of her dear husband Remington too,

On the other side are the younger participants who insist the former is correct, so you "push through the pain", and some of the older ones too agree with that based on hope. One of those on the "push through the pain" side is a hot young blond, named, what else but Bambi, who is getting paid good money by Remington and some of the others as a personal trainer for the extremely strenuous event. No, sorry, there's nothing spicy like THAT in the book.

I'll leave the rest to the reader to enjoy and just write a few things about the style, etc. As she did in The Mandibles the author uses conversation to elaborate her thoughts. Just as with that previous book, I maintain that there's NO WAY even the intelligent (Civil Engineer husband and Voice-Over-Artist**** wife) couple in this book would talk in that manner in real life. I've read something about this in someone else's review of The Mandibles. It's something that suspends belief a small bit but doesn't detract much from the novel. It's just the way that Lionel Shriver likes to get her ideas across.

Besides having had her own personal home workout since being a kid, narrator Serenata had done plenty of jogging and also had been a bicyclist. Most of the latter was done in the manner I like to cycle - to get somewhere. The narrator noted some of the difficulties involved with doing this, for her, changing from her biking clothes to her nice clothes without exposing herself, on her first date with her future husband Remington, for example. Then there are the advantages to biking in the city - no searching for parking spaces, etc.

What I really liked in this book was the short section in which Serenata, in a hurry on her way to do some voice-over work in NYC, rode down one of the major bike paths (along the Hudson River, I think), even with her bum knees. She noted that this supposed "bike path" was filled with all sorts of detritus, in this biker's opinion, pedestrians, tourists riding five abreast, blocking one from hauling ass, crazy****** mofo's on scooters, "Wall Streeters with laptop panniers and prissy Velcro straps around the ankles of their suit pants", Central American food deliverymen on E-Bikes, teenagers texting on smart phones, etc. "She hated them all." Now,that's a lady after my own heart. I really enjoyed this quick episode in the novel.

Now, let me discuss a really interesting part of this recent novel for us Conservatives, but, unfortunately, a theme that plays only a fleeting part in this story. Likely it's her childhood background from old-timey North Carolina, but Miss Shriver brought up a topic in The Motion of the Body Through Space that could really put her on the outs with any of the NYC or London (her current residence) woke crowd. In the story of why Remington Alabaster, the narrator's exercise freak husband, is retired with time to do any of this to begin with, we learn it's due to the most extreme Affirmative Action, immigration-driven, feminist wokeness that even a Conservative could think of! Oh, yeah, this author goes there. It turns out that Mr. Alabaster's nice and somewhat rewarding city government engineering career got canceled by one sub-standard African immigrant lady. There are a few pages about this, then later some racial discussion in the form of conversation, as usual, between husband and wife. That latter conversation (pages 205 - 207) could have easily been part of a Steve Sailer HBD comment thread.

To add more anti-woke goodness to the pot, we find out toward the end of the MettleMan exercise madness saga that Serenata's voice-over-artist job is being slowly and surely cancelled, as it has now become NOT OK to appropriate foreigners' or non-anyone-plainly-normal's voices. That puts the kibosh on her part-time, but lucrative gigs, basically. Though the narrator does mention financial worries, after that anti-White damage to the couple, I honestly don't see how the family was planning on staying in the black - the numbers just don't seem to add up.

It was disappointing to me that this amazingly honest White-people-getting-screwed (twice) background story became nothing more than that, a small sub-plot. The author went nowhere with it. In fact, she reverted at one point. At some point Serenata noted that the MettleMan competition, the business of it, and the family and fans too, were predominantly White. She didn't make anything of that, until one paragraph that I couldn't find right now, in which she seemed to see that as a problem. OK, that was the book character, but was this an effort at plausible deniability by Mrs. Shriver? I don't know why she brought it up in the first case then.

Speaking of family (2 paragraphs up), narrator Serenata has 2 grown-up kids, a single young man named Deacon, and a daughter, Valeria who is a mother of 5. (I think that's right. There's one more coming at the end of the story.) As is the case in We Need to Talk about Kevin too, it being an EXTREME case, of course, Lionel Shriver has a running theme about children who don't work out so well. In this book, narrator-Mom sees the good along with the bad in her children, which is the same with the 2nd child in "Kevin" also. The author herself has written that she doesn't have any children herself. I think, not out of just selfishness but perhaps worry about how they may turn out (wrong), these novels may project the reason she hasn't.

Now, let me say something about that Afterword. It wraps up the story as in a look by the narrator from some months or a year or two later. It's about the human body and about aging too. It's very HEAVY. Drink a beer beforehand.

Lastly, I'm gonna be THAT GUY for a minute. Yes, Peak Stupidity has a lot of gall to write this, but then we are just a measly blog, working on miserable salaries of about, well, 0 dollars per hour. On page 65, the first full paragraph starts with "Which was a mistake." Hey, not a sentence. Neither was that. That was. So was that. Anyway, surprising! That wasn't.

OK, [that's] enough. The Motion of the Body Through Space is a good read. I recommend it but don't see it as being as important reading for the Peak Stupidity type as The Mandibles is.

* Matter of fact, we noted that Newt Gingrich, Mr. Broken-Contract-with-America himself, wrote that in his foreword to another Prepper novel that we reviewed - One Second After, by a guy named William Forstchen.

** I don't know where she comes up with these wacky names for the main characters. The wife in each of these 3 books has a different unusual name, usually supposed to be a name coming from Eastern Euro. immigrants. I didn't think that's the case with Lionel - formerly Margaret, till she changed it as a teenager - Shriver.

*** The author doesn't mention it, but the guy's time in the marathon, 7 hr. 25 min (you don't worry about seconds with this kind of time!), is so long that I don't see why he couldn't have been just walking it. That's 3.52 mph on average! Remington is described as pretty tall (6 ft. or something), so a 3 1/2 mph walking pace would be normal. I think Mrs. Shriver's fictional numbers are off here.

**** She is employed in New York City via intermittent and later more occasional commutes, to use her very versatile voice to read books "on tape", in which she uses different accents, tones, feelings, etc. to try to represent the books.

***** In We Need to Talk About Kevin there IS no direct conversation, as the book is written as a series of letters by the narrator wife.

****** See, as some comedian said, it's those slow pokes who are the morons ahead of you slowing you down and those crazy idiots who are passing you. Otherwise, traffic would be great!

Adam Smith
Saturday - December 4th 2021 11:28AM MST
PS: Good afternoon everyone,

Thanks for the book report Mr. Moderator.
I would almost feel remiss if I didn't share a copy...

You know, for anyone who might be interested.

Wednesday - December 1st 2021 4:48PM MST
PS: Besides some city jobs, I suppose, in which one is expected to hire diversely, I'd say Civil Engineering is still a good bet for White men. Lots of guys have their own small businesses or work for small firms with guys they know. You must network with people who have some confidence in your work.

It wasn't like this from my experience in Big Biz aerospace even in the late 1980s, I can tell you, Alarmist, with only a sprinkling of Asians. However, now at the Big Biz positions you're likely to have to deal with the unpleasant diversity racket. It may not be to the point of worrying about your job but just having to pull the AA hires along or make an effort not to do anything that can be seen as saying they suck at the job in any way.

I don't know much about the investment banking world. I do know that's where Ron Unz started out. Were you around near the same location and time as him?

(I listened to an interview of Ron Unz one time. I can't remember if it was on his website or not, but he was talking about getting into that "quant" world and all. It was nice that he was very pleasant, as there wasn't any type of hostile questioning involved.)
The Alarmist
Wednesday - December 1st 2021 3:08PM MST

Well, Alabaster is a quite White stone, so I get that name.

Back in the days when I was an aerospace engineer, I left the AF hoping to get into that biz and build rockets, but they seemed to want cheaper Asians, so I wandered off Wall Street and never looked back, because they were desperate for quants to the point of recruiting Russians, and they were glad to get a native when they could.

I don’t recall seeing many black engineers, but I guess you’d find them as Sanitation Engineers or, only slightly better, Civil Engineers, so Ms. Shriver’s characterization is plausible. The only Africans I saw in Investment Banking back then were White South Africans, but African Americans started showing up in the later ‘90s as the bank staffed up HR and its diversity function.
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