when the end of life seems endless


should we stay or should we go
by Lionel Shriver

When we meet in their 50s, Wilkinson, Kay and Cyril, a married couple, she’s a nurse and she’s a doctor in Britain’s National Health Service, she’s a spirited free spirit who loves her wine, she’s a There is the honest socialist who is intoxicated by his own virtue, contemplating whether he should kill himself. Not immediately, but in due course. They have their reasons.

Dementia victim Kay’s father has just died after a long fall. For Kay, her father’s “infinite dotage” was a demoralizing test that seemed years away from her senses—her smell, her filth—and her life. For Cyril, a man who uprooted things in a bloodthirsty utilitarian manner and was always mindful of the collective interests, the drawn-out death of his father-in-law was proof that older people live on earth much longer, consuming Provide medical and social resources best dedicated to young people.

And so, one night after drinking excessively, Cyril proposes a plan he hopes will save his wife and her – not to mention the kingdom – very upset. When they turn 80 (or when Kay turns 80, because she is a few months younger than him) they will reduce the overdose of sleeping pills, which Cyril already put in the refrigerator 30 years ago. kept in. Kay is skeptical of the plan at first, but one day after noticing that her mother is beginning to become forgetful, she tells her husband: “I’m totally in.”

With this fateful clockwork twist that only requires a few pages and transpires in the form of chipper banter reminiscent of a Noel Coward comedy, we find ourselves in the realm of high-concept. We are reading a novel of issues, a thesis novel concerning euthanasia and medical rationing. It may not be cut from the headlines, but neatly cut from them, its manner is cheeky, satirical, and hardcore, its characters are capable of op-ed-style take on questions and many more. Current affairs like the Brexit vote are an enduring interest of the couple, even more so than their own children (or so it seems). For example, here’s Cyril on the pandemic, which happens to strike in the novel as Wilkinson approaches his long-considered final act:

“I’ve studied the data. That strange, doom-spreading computer modeler at Imperial College London who predicted 510,000 British deaths without drastic intervention—his head is on his back. Ponce’s adventures may have Boris, But Neil Ferguson has underestimated the lethality of the virus by at least an order of magnitude.”



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