Book ReviewVolume 14 Issue # 04

Property: A Collection

This landmark publication, the first collec-tion of stories from a master of the form, explores the idea of “property” in both senses of the word: real estate, and stuff. These sharp, brilliantly imaginative pieces illustrate how our possessions act as prox-ies for ourselves, and how tussles over ownership articulate the power dynamics of our relationships. In Shriver’s world, we may possess people and objects and places, but in turn they possess us.
In the stunning novella “The Standing Chandelier”, a woman with a history of attracting other women’s an-tagonism creates a deeply personal wedding present for her best friend and his wife-to-be. In “Domestic Terrorism,” a thirty-something son refuses to leave home, resulting in a standoff that renders him a Millennial cause célèbre. In “The ChapStick,” a middle-aged man sub-jugated by service to his elderly father discovers that the last place you should finally assert yourself is airport security. In “Vermin,” an artistic Brooklyn couple’s purchase of a ramshackle house destroys their once passionate relationship. In “The Subletter,” two women, both foreign conflict junkies, fight over claim to a territory that doesn’t belong to either. This immensely readable collection showcases the biting insight that has made Lionel Shriver one of the most acclaimed authors of our time.

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