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May We be Forgiven by A. M. Homes

May We be Forgiven (original 2012; edition 2012)

by A. M. Homes

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7425412,554 (3.62)123
Title:May We be Forgiven
Authors:A. M. Homes
Info:Granta Books (2012), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Tags:American society

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


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Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
When I started this book I wondered if I would be able to finish it, but its brilliance lies in the the emotional growth of the narrator: a man who is, in the words of one of his lovers a "two-by-four" with no real life to speak of at the beginning, and the centre of a warm, loving, flawed "family" at the end. The dis-connect never entirely left, which partly arises I think from not being sure if life for some people in America really is like this - I was watching Girls at the same time and it had the same tone. Parts of the story (bringing in the Israeli arms-dealer from the open prison in the woods with choc-chip cookies and the fbi for example) exacerbated this. But the chapter set in Kwazulu-Natal and the fact that is it never explicitly underlined that this person learning to be a good homemaker is a middle-aged man balance out the bits I found boring. I am intrigued to read more of this author. ( )
  Deborahrs | Apr 15, 2017 |
A bit of a disappointment. A big fat sprawling book, with some really amusing moments and some really touching ones. But wow, the middle was a slog, and some of the allegedly funny scenes came across as borderline offensive. Really a two-star read, but I am granting one bonus point because I wrote my senior history thesis on Richard Nixon, and it's not often that one comes upon a fellow Nixon obsessive in one's fiction reading. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
This novel is more than a book, it is an adventure and you have to be willing to sign up for the ride, come what may. Homes will take you on a few tangents in this book but for me they added to the originality of this novel. This is not a feel good book per se; at times the honesty is painful but it is worth the investment. I loved it. ( )
  Maureen_McCombs | Aug 19, 2016 |
...just too silly for words
By sally tarbox on 20 April 2014
Format: Paperback
The first few pages were absolutely riveting: unpleasant TV executive George causes a fatal car accident and ends up in a psychiatric institute. While he's away, his brother Harry ends up in bed with his wife; George catches them and murders the wife.

But then it just went on for 500 pages in an incredibly silly and far-fetched plot.
Harry slowly evolves from a rather uninspiring academic, whose life revolves around his work on President Nixon and meeting women for no-strings sex ('there has always lived within me a rusty sense of disgust - a dull, brackish water that I suspect is my soul') into this uber-loving human. For not only does Harry take on George's two children (who he discovers to be much nicer than he first thought), but also adopts the boy orphaned in George's car accident. And takes on the old and feeble parents of a woman he's been having sex with when she goes AWOL. And comes to the realization that 'it seems pointless to go on for the sake of going on, if there isn't some larger idea, some sense of enhancing the lives of others.'

It's fast, snappy, puts me in mind of an all-action American movie full of smart responses. A M Homes is an extremely accomplished writer but this was one I almost gave up on. ( )
  starbox | Jul 10, 2016 |
This reminded me of the small print on mobile phone app advertisements that say "sequence shortened". Most of the things that happen seem to happen outside of the normal inhibiting factors of practicality, convention and good sense. The whole adoption/fostering thing was a case in point. So much goes on in this book that it's hard to believe by the end that it has all been packed into a single year. Probably that's the point - that you can achieve a lot if you just get used to saying 'yes' to things without thinking of the downside.

It was this relentless 'can do' attitude that lent the book a exhilarating quality. Feeling curious about a hearse driver's career on the way back from a funeral? Bugger convention, solemnity etc. Let's just ask him! Likewise I found the bits featuring the party planner a revelation - there were so many points at which I would have said "nope, that's not possible" while she just ploughed ahead and organised the whole thing. There's a certain optimism about this author's books that you don't get anywhere else.

On the other hand, it felt as though the plot was planned as a series of vignettes - the dating websites, the South Africa trip, the innovative prison camp...into which the protagonist had to be shoehorned. He even had to have a stroke in order to facilitate the admittedly very entertaining scenes with the terminally ill patient. A stroke that must have been quite difficult to reconcile with some of the stuff, like the climbing wall, that had to happen later. It felt sometimes that his personality was a tad too fluid, in order to work within each scene - one minute highly intellectual, one minute a sex maniac, one minute clueless, the next razor sharp in his handling of a sex abuse incident. He was whatever was called for at a particular moment, but for me he was always entertaining. ( )
  jayne_charles | Jun 25, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (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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For Claudia to whom I owe a debt of gratitude
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Do you want my recipe for disaster?
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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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