Baby, You're the Greatest: A Short Story


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Baby, You're the Greatest: A Short Story

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Länge: 33 Seiten30 Minuten


From the internationally bestselling and irrepressibly provocative author of the novels We Need to Talk About Kevin, So Much for That, and The Mandibles: A Family, 2029–2047, comes a searing story of a self-described “terrible man.”

Dan Lancaster loves his wife, Genevieve, and what Genevieve wants she gets. She wants a baby, and, despite Dan’s reservations, she gets one—Broderick, a name chosen by Dan for its grown-upness—but, tragically, their son may never grow up. Afflicted by a progressively debilitating disorder, he is deaf, blind, subject to seizures, and unable to breathe without the aid of a ventilator. The medical authorities of Britain’s National Health Service, judging the case hopeless, recommend that the newborn be removed from life support, but Genevieve won’t hear of it, and the battle over the fate of Baby Broderick begins. It’s waged in courtrooms and—courtesy of a ceaselessly plugged-in, hypervigilant media—in the court of public opinion, which is decidedly on the side of the mother and father deciding if and when anyone pulls the plug. But what Dan’s crusading wife doesn’t know—what he’s hiding from her and from everyone—is that he agrees with the NHS doctors; he wants to see their son put out of his misery. To confess this, however, would be to risk losing, even infuriating, their legions of supporters (not to mention the money suddenly pouring in from crowdfunding sites for the child’s treatment). It might also reveal Dan’s gnawing suspicion that his wife is acting as much out of maternal instinct as from a compulsive competitiveness: She’s driven to win, no matter the cost to their child and, indeed, to their marriage.

Based in part on a true story that enthralled and divided Britain and gave rise to a debate over who has the right to decide whether a child lives or dies—the state or the parents—Baby, You’re the Greatest is the author at her Shriveresque best: plunging headlong into controversy and not only evoking the zeitgeist but putting “her hands around its throat” (The Washington Post). In strokes both satiric and moving, savagely funny yet humane, Shriver asks who we can trust to care for the most fragile among us, particularly when a mother and father don’t agree about the course of that care or, more fundamentally, agree about what life is, and how love is expressed and honored. What can any of us do when thoughtful discussion, any bid for compromise, is drowned out by a public whose reflex for outrage keeps our conflict-rich, headline-hungry, social-media-addled culture as robust as poor Baby Broderick is not and may never be?

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