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Lionel Shriver equates ‘fitness’ with a movement of religious fanaticism in his new novel

Always determined to delve into the festering wounds of Western society, the latest installment by the great and indefatigable Lionel Shriver (North Carolina, 1957) focuses on the business of fitnesswhich he equates with any other movement of religious fanaticism, irrefutable proof of the decadence of the times, an idea already exposed (in his southern way) by another giant of satire, Harry Crewsin that hilarious bodies (1990).

Whom The movement of the body through spaceSerenata Terpsichore (great name) appears to us as a woman with a difficult, individualistic and misanthropic character, capable nonetheless of living happily with a husband whom she thought she knew well, at least until he is terminated from his job, and, out of place (not to say also humiliated), he decides to dedicate his free time (and a good part of his savings) to training hard and overcoming tough sports events.

His wife attends like this with astonishment, jealousy (and true contempt) of your partner’s transformationalready sixty, who until then had not done the slightest physical exercise.

Articulated this more than daily premise through acid dialogues (house brand)Thanks also to a masterful use of narrative tension (which will take us to the brink of reading explosion), the novel works perfectly as a fierce criticism of “geriatric vanity” and the way in which we have succumbed to the absurd imperatives of the fight against aging, without assuming, as stated in it, that “all advanced age is a Poe tale”.

But the scope of this satire goes further, by also raising how some young people today only seem to find meaning in their lives by punishing their bodies, as the fanatical daughter of the couple does, embracing religion with the same enthusiasm with which she stopped (delighted). one creature after another.

The writer satirizes young people who only seem to find meaning in their lives by punishing their bodies

The novel also addresses the complex functioning of a certain redeeming mentality based on the capitalist (not to say spiritualist) maxim to “make money, fight and become holy” and, parallel to it, the emergence of a whole generation of “corridor guards” who, instead of dedicating themselves (as in the past) to breaking the established rules, not only create new rules but also dedicate themselves to complying with them “with a whip ”, as does the hateful Bambi, the husband’s personal trainer.

For her part, Serenata, a voice actress, an expert in modulating all kinds of accents, will be faced with new positions that morally censure that there are those who occupy the place that does not correspond to them. In this, the protagonist is revealed to be a transcript of Shriver herselfwhose critiques of identity politics and cultural appropriation are well known.

Political incorrectness, intelligence and a wild sense of humor come to the fore in Shriver’s new novel

But it is here where the novel perhaps goes a bit off track, loses finesse, when drawing on it some scenes that are somewhat cartoonishand I think, above all, of the derivative of the labor “process” to which the husband is subjected after arguing with his new boss, much younger than him and African-American.

Of The movement of the body through space Finally, it could be said that he is guilty of the same idea that he criticizes: surely four hundred pages were not necessary to tell this story, to which (magnificent) denouement We arrived somewhat exhausted, as if we had accompanied Serenata’s husband in one of his long-suffering marathons, especially when the author has shown on more than one occasion her enormous talent for short or medium distances.

[La voz cáustica de Lionel Shriver]

With everything, due to the causticity, political incorrectness, intelligence and wild sense of humor that this novel has in store, it will surely be much less effortful to read it (and enjoy it) than to do planks or sit-ups.

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