Books in Brief: January 2022

Should We Stay or Should We Go: A Novel, by Lionel Shriver (HarperCollins; 288 pp., $26.99). Who but the clinically insane would complain about the extended life expectancies in the Western world? We now expect modern science will teleport us to an earthly utopia, and the more time we spend there, the better. The global economy shut down during COVID for the one reason every right-thinking cosmopolite accepts: nothing counts more than our life’s length—not its quality, purpose, or product. Nowadays, whoever dies with the most years wins.
This humorous dark novel boldly challenges this anti-Christian, modernistic, and materialist ethos. Cyril and Kay, two middle-aged, married English medical professionals, agree in 1980 that they will commit suicide together in 2020 rather than burden their uncaring children or Britain’s medical bureaucracy. Their “self-designated D-Day” barely registered when it loomed 40 years in the future. But as the story jumps to 2020, Kay’s sudden misgivings annoy her dismally pragmatic husband. Cyril’s argument—“We’re not living for longer. We’re dying for longer!”—forces readers to consider end-of-life...

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