>Lottery by Patricia Wood

>(cross posted to Reading Challenge)

Dave Hingsburger very occasionally hosts a book club on his blog.  The books he’s chosen so far have all been very good.  And they’ve been very varied in my opinion.  At least one of them (Zoo Station by David Downing) I wouldn’t have picked up for myself in waterstones or wherever and the other two (this one and A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell) are more my sort of book but neither I had heard of before they were mentioned by Dave.  The book this time is Lottery by Patricia Wood.  I had originally thought I wouldn’t be able to get a copy in time thanks to all the snow we’ve had and my not getting out for so long earlier this month.  But then the lovely Heather posted her copy to me once she finished it.  Thanks Heather!

Lottery is a wonderful story about a character Wood names Perry L Crandell.  The L stands for lucky, his Gram always told him.  He’s not the R word (I refuse to use that word in my writing but I suspect most people here know what it is), to be that you have to have an IQ of less than 75 and his IQ is 76.  Not long after the story starts his Gram dies and he ends up all alone.  The rest of his family think he’s an idiot and don’t want anything to do with him, they just take advantage and them dump him to manage by himself.  Until he wins 11 million dollars on the state lottery.

I don’t want to go too much further into “this happens and that happens” because I don’t want to risk ruining the story for anyone who hasn’t read it.  I know a guy who frequently describes the plots of books and shows etc saying he won’t say too much for fear of ruining it and goes so far I’m like “well you just did ruin it for me.”  So I’ll stick with what I’ve said because that’s not much more than a paraphrased version of the back synopsis.

You might think that the idea of falling outside of a category by one IQ point is far fetched.  It’s really not.  I’ve personal experience of having my needs assessed and having it found that I’m literally on the cusp of the category that gets help but sorry, Emma, no help for you!  The biggest thing that happened to me with was help with making food.  I can use the microwave and make sandwiches and get light things out of the oven so even though making food was one of the criteria you could get help for I couldn’t.  Because the help that was available was help to use the microwave.  All of my other needs weren’t ones that social services needed to meet according to their criteria (it’s worth noting that in professional circles my area IS known as one of the worst in the UK for social services funding).  I’ve managed better than I anticipated without the support but financially paying myself for the bits (cleaning) I could no way manage without is a hit I could do without.  And certainly it does affect me in other ways but frustrating as it is it turned out to be of my benefit and it would be strange to have social services input again if it were offered.  I’d probably take it but it would take some getting used too.  And whilst it would be very useful I’m not sure the rigid systems that are generally provided here would feel right to me after so long out of them.  I’m not going to go any further  into my own situation because it’s not relevant and it all happened several years ago.

The book ends with Perry as a very successful man, without most of his money but with everything he wants and success and love.  His family who fought so hard to have him declared incompetent and take his money aren’t as lucky..

I think the overall message of this book is that happiness and success are measured it different ways and that if you think you are successful and if you’re happy than it doesn’t matter if you’re different and society judges you negatively.  It’s certainly a lesson I’ve had to learn in life and one at times I’m still working on remembering and relearning.

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