Perhaps Miami is the very place to be hearing Lionel Shriver talk about her new book, ‘Big Brother’ (to be published tomorrow, Thursday, May 9). Ms Shriver’s book is about her brother’s death as the result of extreme obesity. Miami, famously, is the land of the beautiful people (I could be wrong, but I think it was determined a few years ago – howsoever you’d determine such a thing – that Miami is home to the most beautiful people in the US).
Anyway, whatever subconscious linkages fashioned by the mind, I couldn’t help but think about a piece about Miami I once read in a Cleveland newspaper as I heard Ms Shriver talk about her once-a-day eating habit; two-hours-a-day of tennis and hours of calisthenics in the run-up to the release of ‘Big Brother’.
Here’s what I remembered (courtesy web memory). The Cleveland journalist wrote as follows: “The plane touched down at Miami International Airport, and I felt like I’d landed in the middle of a hurricane. A different kind of hurricane, where bronzed, beautiful people swirl about ferociously in designer outfits and attitudes.
“There I was surrounded by more Dolce & Gabbana than I’d ever seen. And the trendezoids around me already were really tan – as if it were some prerequisite to enter South Beach.”
And then there was Shriver, talking on the BBC World Service about how Western attitudes to food are riveting and how the have-little-less-often philosophy might be healthier. Or an “indulgence hour” every evening. It sounds about right.
If Ms Shriver says something – or better still, writes it – there’s every reason to pay attention. She is a cerebral but determinedly anti-intellectual, sensitive but unsentimental writer. She is a still, strong voice in our tower of babel.
I remember reading ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ 10 years ago and wondering how the author expected to sell something that was patently true and valid but went against the Hallmark-card-style sentimentality de rigeur in our times.
She did. And won the Orange Prize.
More power to Lionel Shriver.
Wherever one is – in Miami, or elsewhere.