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May We Be Forgiven: A Novel by A. M. Homes

May We Be Forgiven: A Novel (original 2012; edition 2012)

by A. M. Homes

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5774717,144 (3.63)118
Title:May We Be Forgiven: A Novel
Authors:A. M. Homes
Info:Viking Adult (2012), Edition: First Printing, Hardcover, 496 pages
Collections:To Reread/Same Author, Read but unowned
Tags:fiction, r2012, astrid, candidate, US

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May We Be Forgiven by A. M. Homes (2012)


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English (41)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (46)
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
A little far-fetched and just downright bizarre at times, but still, an overall wonderful ride of a book, through all the complexities of the family you are born into, and the one you create. This reminded me in many ways of Homes's other novels, filled with disenchanted suburbanites, unlikely friendships, ramifications of horrific decisions (and some good ones too) and at the core, the desire to find better and do better. Uncomfortable sex, dark humor, bad habits and poking fun at all kinds of spiritual paths abound, but what I think her novels do ultimately, is lighten me up. Yes, life can be hard, but truly, it is what you make of it. Highly recommended for awesome entertainment and escaping into other people's really weird lives. She also writes incredibly well not only from a male perspective, but her teenager/child characters are frighteningly real. ( )
  CarolynSchroeder | Feb 19, 2015 |
At its heart - and much like its predecessor - a book for the soul. It's a celebration of all that is good and all that is flawed in human nature. I would go so far as to call it beautifully tainted. Thank you to A M Homes for introducing flawed compassion and heroism so perfectly, not once but twice now. ( )
  donnambr | Nov 27, 2014 |
During the course of a single year, from one Thanksgiving to the next, Harold Silver goes through a lot. Things start badly when his sister-in-law, whom he secretly covets, kisses him in the kitchen as they are cleaning up after the festive dinner. That sets something in motion, or maybe it just latches onto something that was already in motion. Within a few pages, Harold’s brother, George, commits vehicular manslaughter killing two strangers, then whilst supposedly under supervision in a hospital he walks out and makes his way home and kills his adulterous wife, Jane, after first beating his brother senseless. By now, the reader is most certainly gripping the pages of the book with both hands much like a correspondingly terrifying roller-coaster. But this is only the beginning. Better hold on tight for the ride ahead.

A.M. Homes has a remarkable ability to thrust the reader directly into the action. You can begin to feel a bit breathless and perhaps start hoping for a bit of descriptive relief or nuanced character development to take the edge off. Not happening! Homes instead turns the crank on the plot so that more and more and more stuff just keeps happening. To accomplish this, she seems entirely willing to forego any depth of character, specificity of locale, or plausibility. Harold, a typical Homes protagonist, is a bit befuddled, weighted down with an unpleasant childhood, guilt ridden but earnest, ineffectual at least initially, and, curiously, an apparent sexual magnet, though his life before these events would not have led one to expect this. Harold takes on the burden of his brother’s two young children, his dog and cat, and eventually numerous others as he works through a form of atonement perhaps. But it is atonement that gradually changes Harold himself so that by the end of his annus horribilis he is almost a different person.

The writing here is all surface. But not superficial. At times Homes brilliantly invokes the writing of others. How? By simply having Don DeLillo appear briefly as a character. Or John Cheever. It is a fascinating approach to post-modernism, I suppose. And perhaps it even works. It is hard to say. I’m prepared to accept that views on this novel might diverge drastically. For me, it almost worked and so I gently recommend it to others. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Oct 7, 2014 |
Not a review, but a precis so that I will remember this book.
A darkly comic novel of twenty-first-century domestic life and the possibility of personal transformation.

Harold Silver has spent a lifetime watching his younger brother, George, a taller, smarter, and more successful high-flying TV executive, acquire a covetable wife, two kids, and a beautiful home in the suburbs of New York City. But Harry, a historian and Nixon scholar, also knows George has a murderous temper, and when George loses control the result is an act of violence so shocking that both brothers are hurled into entirely new lives in which they both must seek absolution. ( )
  livrecache | Oct 2, 2014 |
This a dark and disturbing indictment of the American dream−a questioning of what is actually important for the psyche of the nation and what is being lost from up on high, i.e. Nixon onwards, as well as nuclear family values.

The questioning comes from the point of view of the dysfunctional (or are they functional?) POV Harold Silver, which I found fascinating as you are never explicitly told what is wrong with him, and what is residual from his own upbringing. There are ten main personality disorders and he spans a few of them, which is less than his brother that kills his wife and leaves Harry with their kids.

I felt the humour could have been funnier in parts and that would be my only criticism−although those people that recommended this as my first Homes book do not agree.
This book is clever and sometimes so subtle and understated you can easily miss it−I went and reread bits.

Here is the clincher for me. I always finish a book I start, and if it gets to the last 100 pages and I feel I have to lock myself away so other ‘dysfunctionals’ don’t disturb me, I know it is a great book−This was the case here−so I did not need to deliberate long how many stars to awarded it.

If you like dysfunction that casts a quizzical eye over society−what most consider normal, this is for you. The unexpected bizarre events in this book really shouldn’t work−but they do, that is clever in itself. At no point did I feel they were caricatures.

thewritingIMP ( )
  IanMPindar | Aug 21, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)

Almost exactly three-quarters of the way through this wonderful, wild, heartbreaking, hilarious and astonishing novel, A M Homes gives us this paragraph: "And then – the real craziness starts. Later, I will wonder if this part really happened or if I dreamed it."

Given the huge amount of craziness in the 355 pages that precedes that paragraph, this really sets the reader up for a humdinger of a finale, one that Homes delivers with aplomb.....This is a piercing, perceptive and deeply funny novel about the nature of life, and about finding your family wherever you can, wherever you get comfort and something approaching love.
The narrative is unrelenting, and yet it makes a kind of sense that all these troubles should be brought to bear on a few individuals. What’s interesting about this book is that for all its ferocious now-ness, its messages are old fashioned. Peace is found in a South African village, amongst community and participation; acts of kindness bring their own rewards. Homes, however, is not a pious or a schmaltzy writer – she is aware that things are compromised, as when George’s son Nate realises that the South African villagers he’s been supporting are really only interested in what material goods they can buy. But this doesn’t detract from the morality of the book’s core. Only connect, Homes tells us, and we can escape the nightmare of the 21st century – if only for a while. .....AM Homes’s ambitious novel, May We Be Forgiven, impresses.
To pair sociological sweep with psychological intimacy, as this book sets out to do, is a laudable ambition. It may even be where the vital center of American fiction is, circa 2012. But Homes hasn’t yet developed the formal vocabulary to reconcile her Cheever side and her DeLillo side. Instead, they end up licensing each other’s failures, canceling each other out. And so what might have been a stereoscopic view of The Way We Live Now ends as an ungainly portmanteau: a picaresque in which nothing much happens, a confession we can’t quite believe, a satire whose targets are already dead.
And the novel is consistently interesting in more sombre ways, too, as when Harry discusses the "rusty sense of disgust" that he suspects might be his soul. May We Be Forgiven is a semi-serious, semi-effective, semi-brilliant novel which could not be called, overall, an artistic success. But you'd have to have no sense of the absurd, and no sense of humour, not to be pretty impressed.

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A. M. Homesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Homes, A. MAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Harold Silver has spent a lifetime watching his younger brother, George, a taller, smarter, and more successful high-flying TV executive, acquire a covetable wife, two kids, and a beautiful home in the suburbs of New York City. But Harry, a historian and Nixon scholar, also knows George has a murderous temper, and when George loses control, the result is an act of violence so shocking that the brothers are hurled into entirely new lives in which they both must seek absolution.
Harry finds himself suddenly playing parent to his brother's two adolescent children, tumbling - hilariously -
down the rabbit hole of Internet sex, and dealing with aging parents who move through time like travelers on a fantastic voyage. Never having realized he was lost, he slowly starts to open up to the world around him, to rise to the occasion and take some risks. As Harry builds a new life and a modern family created by choice rather than biology, we become aware of the ways in which our history, both personal and political, can become our destiny and compel us to either repeat our errors or be the catalyst for change.
In this bold, playful, tenderhearted, and redemptive novel, by turns rollicking and serious and filled with all of her signature touches and flourishes, A.M. Homes digs deeply into themes of the American family, the near biblical intensity of fraternal relationships, our need to make sense of things, and our craving for connection. May We Be Forgiven is an unnerving, funny tale of unexpected intimacies and of how one deeply fractured family might begin to put itself back together.
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Feeling overshadowed by his more-successful younger brother, Harold is shocked by his brother's violent act that irrevocably changes their lives, placing Harold in the role of father figure to his brother's adolescent children and caregiver to his aging parents.… (more)

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