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May We Be Forgiven

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May We Be Forgiven Cover

ISBN13: 9780670025480
ISBN10: 0670025488
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Awards

Staff Pick

Harry Silver commits a sin that will forever change his life, and no amount of foresight could have prepared him for what follows. Harry's brother, George, is suddenly out of the picture, and Harry is left with George's house, his two children, his pets, and all of George's many problems. Harry soon finds himself sucked into Internet "dating," trouble at work, a medical crisis, and a looming divorce. Yet, on this slippery slope, Harry somehow manages to latch onto the one thing that will give his new life meaning: his niece and nephew. As much as you want to dislike Harry — and believe me, you do — he grows in such a way that it's impossible to do so. Homes showcases her brilliant ability to crawl inside a character and share every tiny nuance and quirk. Harry's long climb out of the morass he's created, into redemption, is lovely to watch. Homes throws in a hefty dose of heart and a ton of absurdist humor, along with her slightly skewed commentary on modern life, making May We Be Forgiven an odd mix of hilarity and poignant sweetness.
Recommended by Dianah, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Harry finds himself suddenly playing parent to his brother’s two adolescent children, tumbling down the rabbit hole of Internet sex, dealing with aging parents who move through time like travelers on a fantastic voyage. As Harry builds a twenty-first-century family created by choice rather than biology, we become all the more aware of the ways in which our history, both personal and political, can become our destiny and either compel us to repeat our errors or be the catalyst for change.

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.

Review:

"It's difficult to keep track of the number of awful things that happen to Harold Silver in the first 100 pages of Homes's plodding latest novel. It is equally difficult to care that these things happen to him. Harold's brother, whose anger problem is alluded to but never explicitly mentioned, goes crazy and murders his wife, among other acts of cruelty. In the wake of this tragedy, Harold is made legal guardian of his brother's children. Harold's life continues to unravel as he gets a divorce, loses his job, begins online dating, and endures many other crises that require intense self-reflection. Harold eventually triumphs over his various problems, evolving into the loving, supportive, and thoughtful man he's never been, but the process feels forced, implausible, and overwrought. While Homes (The Mistress's Daughter) successfully creates a convincing male protagonist, everything else about Harold's story fails to persuade. If the reader was given a better sense of who Harold was before his life fell apart, we might be more invested in who he later becomes. The novel suffers from Homes's insistence on having Harold's life continually move from bad to worse, forgetting that sometimes less is more. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, the Wiley Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review:

"This novel starts at maximum force — and then it really gets going. I can't remember when I last read a novel of such narrative intensity; an unflinching account of a catastrophic, violent, black-comic, transformative year in the history of one broken American family. Flat-out amazing." Salman Rushdie

Review:

"I started this book in the A.M., finished in the P.M., and couldn’t sleep all night. Ms. Homes just gets better and better." Gary Shteyngart

Review:

"What if whoever wrote the story of Job had a sense of humor? Nixon is pondered. One character donates her organs. Another tries to grow a heart. A seductive minefield of a novel from A.M. Homes." John Sayles

Review:

"I started reading A.M. Homes twenty years ago. Wild and funny, questioning and true, she is a writer to go traveling with on the journey called life." Jeanette Winterson

Synopsis:

“A big American story with big American themes” (Elle) from the author of the New York Times–bestselling memoir The Mistresss Daughter

In this vivid, transfixing new novel, A. M. Homes presents a darkly comic look at twenty-first-century domestic life and the possibility of personal transformation. Harold Silver has spent a lifetime watching his more successful younger brother, George, acquire a covetable wife, two kids, and a beautiful home in the suburbs of New York City. When Georges murderous temper results in a shocking act of violence, both men are hurled into entirely new lives. May We Be Forgiven digs deeply into the near biblical intensity of fraternal relationships, our need to make sense of things, and our craving for connection. It is an unnerving tale of unexpected intimacies and of how one deeply fractured family might begin to put itself back together.

Synopsis:

Since her debut in 1989, A. M. Homes has been among the boldest and most original voices of her generation, acclaimed for the psychological accuracy and unnerving emotional intensity of her storytelling. Her ability to explore how extraordinary the ordinary can be is at the heart of her touching and funny new novel, her first in six years. This Book Will Save Your Life is a vivid, uplifting, and revealing story about compassion, transformation, and what can happen if you are willing to lose yourself and open up to the world around you.

About the Author

A. M. Homes is the author of the memoir The Mistress’s Daughter and the novels This Book Will Save Your Life, Music for Torching, The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers, and Jack, as well as the story collections The Safety of Objects and Things You Should Know. She lives in New York City.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

Lani Lee, February 3, 2013 (view all comments by Lani Lee)
Fans of A.M. Homes expect crazy situations and 180 degree plot turns. Her stories and novels are populated with pedophiles, gay parents, parents who casually use drugs and commit arson. Despite these odd casts of characters, at heart her protagonists are suburbanites, the people next door who you wave to each morning on your way to work, scarcely wondering why they are still unshaven in their robes. The passing reference to Cheever in May We Be Forgiven elicits delight that yes, that's the answer to the nagging question: who do these men remind you of?
May We Be Forgiven takes place over a year, following Harold Silver's complete disintegration of his life and his clumsy rebuilding. So much insanity occurs in the first fifty pages of this novel, it's impossible to imagine what could be left of the story to tell. That's Homes' talent though. Silver's struggles to regain a sense of normal while cultivating a life that, for him, is decidedly anything but, eclipse murder and mayhem. Silver is confused, he constantly muses about what is right, along the way picking up a ragtag team of misfits and orphans. He befriends a woman in a supermarket and ends up ingratiating himself in her life. He meets a woman online for casual encounters and finds himself at dinner with her family, husband included. His brother is in a mental health facility, then an experimental prison, and despite his brother's cruelty toward him, Harold visits him and sends him gifts. He's not perfect (see the reference to adultery above), but he strives to be a good man.
The novel progresses at breakneck speed. Homes accomplishes this through the use of short passages and lack of chapters. Without those large breaks, there isn't any natural stopping point for the reader, and the text gives the impression of an absurdly long short story. The increased pace heightens the reader's sense of urgency throughout the narrative. Even during passages when Harold conducts Nixon research (his passion and vocation), the tight writing insures that even history-phobes will read along without complaint.
Written acrobatics aside, these are characters not soon forgotten. Remove the incredible situations and plot lines and the characters alone carry the story. Combining the two is what makes this a distinct A. M. Homes work, and what makes it a must-read.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Lani Lee, February 3, 2013 (view all comments by Lani Lee)
Fans of A.M. Homes expect crazy situations and 180 degree plot turns. Her stories and novels are populated with pedophiles, gay parents, parents who casually use drugs and commit arson. Despite these odd casts of characters, at heart her protagonists are suburbanites, the people next door who you wave to each morning on your way to work, scarcely wondering why they are still unshaven in their robes. The passing reference to Cheever in May We Be Forgiven elicits delight that yes, that's the answer to the nagging question: who do these men remind you of?
May We Be Forgiven takes place over a year, following Harold Silver's complete disintegration of his life and his clumsy rebuilding. So much insanity occurs in the first fifty pages of this novel, it's impossible to imagine what could be left of the story to tell. That's Homes' talent though. Silver's struggles to regain a sense of normal while cultivating a life that, for him, is decidedly anything but, eclipse murder and mayhem. Silver is confused, he constantly muses about what is right, along the way picking up a ragtag team of misfits and orphans. He befriends a woman in a supermarket and ends up ingratiating himself in her life. He meets a woman online for casual encounters and finds himself at dinner with her family, husband included. His brother is in a mental health facility, then an experimental prison, and despite his brother's cruelty toward him, Harold visits him and sends him gifts. He's not perfect (see the reference to adultery above), but he strives to be a good man.
The novel progresses at breakneck speed. Homes accomplishes this through the use of short passages and lack of chapters. Without those large breaks, there isn't any natural stopping point for the reader, and the text gives the impression of an absurdly long short story. The increased pace heightens the reader's sense of urgency throughout the narrative. Even during passages when Harold conducts Nixon research (his passion and vocation), the tight writing insures that even history-phobes will read along without complaint.
Written acrobatics aside, these are characters not soon forgotten. Remove the incredible situations and plot lines and the characters alone carry the story. Combining the two is what makes this a distinct A. M. Homes work, and what makes it a must-read.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Kyenne, January 2, 2013 (view all comments by Kyenne)
This was the oddest novel I read this year. Stylistically, it engaged me immediately and kept me reading despite a couple of occasions where I put it down for a few days. To be honest, it wasn't the absolute best writing I came across in 2012; it was the amazing combination of characters, plot and perspective that made me laugh and kept me curious to find out what was going to happen next. Any novel where the protagonist is a Nixon scholar has to have a sense of humor and yest as outlandish as the story was at times, it was never unbelievable. What I loved best was the author's compassion for her characters,for families in their many permutations, and for all the ways we struggle to be human.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 4 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780670025480
Author:
Homes, A. M.
Publisher:
Viking Books
Subject:
Psychological
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literature-Family Life
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20120931
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
b/w photos throughout
Pages:
496
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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May We Be Forgiven Used Hardcover
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$11.50 In Stock
Product details 496 pages Viking Adult - English 9780670025480 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Harry Silver commits a sin that will forever change his life, and no amount of foresight could have prepared him for what follows. Harry's brother, George, is suddenly out of the picture, and Harry is left with George's house, his two children, his pets, and all of George's many problems. Harry soon finds himself sucked into Internet "dating," trouble at work, a medical crisis, and a looming divorce. Yet, on this slippery slope, Harry somehow manages to latch onto the one thing that will give his new life meaning: his niece and nephew. As much as you want to dislike Harry — and believe me, you do — he grows in such a way that it's impossible to do so. Homes showcases her brilliant ability to crawl inside a character and share every tiny nuance and quirk. Harry's long climb out of the morass he's created, into redemption, is lovely to watch. Homes throws in a hefty dose of heart and a ton of absurdist humor, along with her slightly skewed commentary on modern life, making May We Be Forgiven an odd mix of hilarity and poignant sweetness.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "It's difficult to keep track of the number of awful things that happen to Harold Silver in the first 100 pages of Homes's plodding latest novel. It is equally difficult to care that these things happen to him. Harold's brother, whose anger problem is alluded to but never explicitly mentioned, goes crazy and murders his wife, among other acts of cruelty. In the wake of this tragedy, Harold is made legal guardian of his brother's children. Harold's life continues to unravel as he gets a divorce, loses his job, begins online dating, and endures many other crises that require intense self-reflection. Harold eventually triumphs over his various problems, evolving into the loving, supportive, and thoughtful man he's never been, but the process feels forced, implausible, and overwrought. While Homes (The Mistress's Daughter) successfully creates a convincing male protagonist, everything else about Harold's story fails to persuade. If the reader was given a better sense of who Harold was before his life fell apart, we might be more invested in who he later becomes. The novel suffers from Homes's insistence on having Harold's life continually move from bad to worse, forgetting that sometimes less is more. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, the Wiley Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "This novel starts at maximum force — and then it really gets going. I can't remember when I last read a novel of such narrative intensity; an unflinching account of a catastrophic, violent, black-comic, transformative year in the history of one broken American family. Flat-out amazing."
"Review" by , "I started this book in the A.M., finished in the P.M., and couldn’t sleep all night. Ms. Homes just gets better and better."
"Review" by , "What if whoever wrote the story of Job had a sense of humor? Nixon is pondered. One character donates her organs. Another tries to grow a heart. A seductive minefield of a novel from A.M. Homes."
"Review" by , "I started reading A.M. Homes twenty years ago. Wild and funny, questioning and true, she is a writer to go traveling with on the journey called life."
"Synopsis" by ,
“A big American story with big American themes” (Elle) from the author of the New York Times–bestselling memoir The Mistresss Daughter

In this vivid, transfixing new novel, A. M. Homes presents a darkly comic look at twenty-first-century domestic life and the possibility of personal transformation. Harold Silver has spent a lifetime watching his more successful younger brother, George, acquire a covetable wife, two kids, and a beautiful home in the suburbs of New York City. When Georges murderous temper results in a shocking act of violence, both men are hurled into entirely new lives. May We Be Forgiven digs deeply into the near biblical intensity of fraternal relationships, our need to make sense of things, and our craving for connection. It is an unnerving tale of unexpected intimacies and of how one deeply fractured family might begin to put itself back together.

"Synopsis" by ,
Since her debut in 1989, A. M. Homes has been among the boldest and most original voices of her generation, acclaimed for the psychological accuracy and unnerving emotional intensity of her storytelling. Her ability to explore how extraordinary the ordinary can be is at the heart of her touching and funny new novel, her first in six years. This Book Will Save Your Life is a vivid, uplifting, and revealing story about compassion, transformation, and what can happen if you are willing to lose yourself and open up to the world around you.

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