The Motion of the Body Through Space by Lionel Shriver [6/10]

Lionel Shriver is one of those novelists you follow because she tackles substantive, present-day issues with literary skill. After recent books tackling financial collapse and obesity, “The Motion of the Body Through Space” examines the modern world of fitness, and Shriver sets up an ingenious tableau to embed her tale within. 60-year-old fitness fanatic Serenata has exercised for decades, always alone, and now is grounded, ready for a knee operation, when do-nothing husband Remington discovers marathoning and plunges into the world of fitness and running clubs. The author’s stage allows her to explore the history of American obsessive exercising and its current manifestations, with Serenata and Remington, and their families and friends, grappling with love, mania, and betrayal. Shriver pens wonderful, busy scenes full of intelligent dialogue, and her rapier-sharp wit is always present. The immersion into the milieu of long-distance running is fascinating for a long-time runner like me. As with all her recent novels, “The Motion of the Body Through Space” felt a trifle issue-bound, and the characters, while easily pictured and inhabited for the duration of the tale, are freighted with earnest thoughts and words that prevented reader empathy, overall this novel is a thoughtful, if slightly light, diversion well suited for lockdown times.

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