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Baby, You're the Greatest: A Short Story

Baby, You're the Greatest: A Short Story


Baby, You're the Greatest: A Short Story

ratings:
4/5 (79 ratings)
Length:
33 pages
29 minutes
Released:
Mar 31, 2020
ISBN:
9781094404981
Format:
Book

Description

From the internationally bestselling and irrepressibly provocative author of the novels We Need to Talk About Kevin, So Much for That, and The Mandibles: A Family, 2029–2047, comes a searing story of a self-described “terrible man.”

Dan Lancaster loves his wife, Genevieve, and what Genevieve wants she gets. She wants a baby, and, despite Dan’s reservations, she gets one—Broderick, a name chosen by Dan for its grown-upness—but, tragically, their son may never grow up. Afflicted by a progressively debilitating disorder, he is deaf, blind, subject to seizures, and unable to breathe without the aid of a ventilator. The medical authorities of Britain’s National Health Service, judging the case hopeless, recommend that the newborn be removed from life support, but Genevieve won’t hear of it, and the battle over the fate of Baby Broderick begins. It’s waged in courtrooms and—courtesy of a ceaselessly plugged-in, hypervigilant media—in the court of public opinion, which is decidedly on the side of the mother and father deciding if and when anyone pulls the plug. But what Dan’s crusading wife doesn’t know—what he’s hiding from her and from everyone—is that he agrees with the NHS doctors; he wants to see their son put out of his misery. To confess this, however, would be to risk losing, even infuriating, their legions of supporters (not to mention the money suddenly pouring in from crowdfunding sites for the child’s treatment). It might also reveal Dan’s gnawing suspicion that his wife is acting as much out of maternal instinct as from a compulsive competitiveness: She’s driven to win, no matter the cost to their child and, indeed, to their marriage.

Based in part on a true story that enthralled and divided Britain and gave rise to a debate over who has the right to decide whether a child lives or dies—the state or the parents—Baby, You’re the Greatest is the author at her Shriveresque best: plunging headlong into controversy and not only evoking the zeitgeist but putting “her hands around its throat” (The Washington Post). In strokes both satiric and moving, savagely funny yet humane, Shriver asks who we can trust to care for the most fragile among us, particularly when a mother and father don’t agree about the course of that care or, more fundamentally, agree about what life is, and how love is expressed and honored. What can any of us do when thoughtful discussion, any bid for compromise, is drowned out by a public whose reflex for outrage keeps our conflict-rich, headline-hungry, social-media-addled culture as robust as poor Baby Broderick is not and may never be?

Released:
Mar 31, 2020
ISBN:
9781094404981
Format:
Book

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 and the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and many other publications. She lives in London and Brooklyn, New York.



Inside the book

Top quotes

  • The sweet, obliterating reek of the hand sanitizer beckoned with its redemption, as if well-meaning sins could be briskly wiped clean with faithful moral hygiene.

  • So for many months now he had committed to a secrecy of such profundity that simply walking down the street was an out-of-body experience.

Book Preview

Baby, You're the Greatest - Lionel Shriver

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Baby, You’re the Greatest

HE WAS A TERRIBLE MAN, which was out of his hands. All that he controlled was whether or not other people, and specifically his wife, learned that he was terrible. So for many months now he had committed to a secrecy of such profundity that simply walking down the street was an out-of-body experience. The discovery that this degree of concealment was even possible would hereafter contaminate his every relationship with suspicion. Who knew who anyone was, really.

Dan Lancaster was famous. Plenty of famous people were unpleasant characters, sometimes famously unpleasant. But Dan was famous for being stalwart, for being devoted and true, for being blameless, and for being a tragic figure—although one other figure in this tableau got credit for being even more tragic, beatifically tragic, and that couldn’t be helped; you know how people are, and Genevieve was the mother. Nevertheless, if on a second tier, he was a vessel for other people’s sympathy—a sympathy they appeared to wallow in, a sympathy that in finding his situation so unimaginably, unbearably painful seemed to give them something. Maybe that made him an altruist of a kind. He allowed strangers to glory in his sadness. There was something Christian in all this, detestably so. They got drunk on their cheap sorrow. He poured them another glass.

Well, it was fucking painful, friends. But not the way you think.

To be honest (a stock opener that was a British tic, which should make you wonder just how often his countrymen were lying the rest of the time), he had never been that keen on babies. It was possibly a gender thing. He didn’t goo-goo at prams, though of course men weren’t expected to. But his absence of reaction went beyond that; indifference was too mild, aversion too strong. For the life of him, he couldn’t get caught up in those tiny, fascinating developmental transformations. He wasn’t fascinated. He was waiting for the bundles to get big enough to talk. Others went on so about the smell, but he didn’t care for the smell. The sweetness was sickly. Certainly this faint recoil was less pronounced with his own infant, or it was until the

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Reviews

What people think about Baby, You're the Greatest

3.8
79 ratings / 8 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (2/5)
    For me that means she or he is very good
  • (5/5)
    Such a well-written intriguing story. It is just the right length, and the narrative ends just where it should.
  • (4/5)
    I love this authors books . This one was sweet with sadness added in . Dan wasn’t nice to begin with but then he redeemed himself.
  • (3/5)
    its good and informative,everyone should read it. i like it alot.
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  • (3/5)
    Okay.. I was interested with the description and assumed the story would captivate me like the description did... it did not.

    My judgement is off the use of phrasing- there seemed to be too many “big” words. I felt it wasn’t relatable because average people, as the characters were supposed to be, don’t normally use the amount of “big” words in their conversation or thought processes.

    I also didn’t get the satirical effect that the author put in.
  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

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    1 person found this helpful