May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes(5 out of 5)

Harold Silver has spent his whole life in the shadow of his brother George-until the car accident. George’s hair-trigger temper results in his running a red light and smashing into a van, killing three of the passengers. The way George reacts to this- you wonder, did he have control of his faculties, or was he in some catatonic state? George is then committed to a mental hospital. Harold is told repeatedly by his wife Claire that he needs to go take care of George’s wife Jane. He does take care of her- by going further into the darkroom of his fantasies and sleeping with her! Can it get worse? George sneaks out of the mental hospital and finds his way home, only to find his wife and brother in flagrante delicto. Boom. Matchstick, meet gasoline. George then kills Jane in a fit of unbridled rage, while Harold basically stands there, silently arguing with himself over the affair and whether he’ll be found out. George is again put away in the mental hospital and Harold assumes custody of the his kids. Claire finds out about his affair and divorces him. He gets into the tawdry world of Internet sex and bounces around from one thing to another, trying to find something he can settle into. Harold- his entire life- has secretly envied George’s life. Now- minus the wife- he seems to have adopted, in a dark bizarre list of events- his brother’s life. But what happens? How does this play out? What happens to George? I will tell you this- I thought what happens to George while he’s in the institution- is hysterical. If anyone argues with you that parts of these book are not satire, then I ask you to direct me to what is. 

Any possible roadway into pathological behavior seems to be an intersection in every other chapter in her book. You simply cannot put this book down. A.M. Homes and her grasp of language is infectious- the darkness of the book and the unbelievable turn of events throughout the book keep you hooked. I got through 144 pages and had to set it down- it was too much with all of the other stuff going on in my own life. It is completely impossible to feel any sympathy for George, or Harold, yet I could not get over what I was reading and had to see what was going to happen next. Would Harold continue to let his life go by the wayside in the shadow of trying, in some implausible way, to emanate his brother’s old life? Harold’s job- by the way- is a professor of all things Richard M. Nixon. Nixon gets mention throughout, which I find fascinating, given Harold’s circumstances. A psychology major would likely have a field day with this book. I’m not- and I had a field day. I had to sit there, set it down, have two more cups of coffee, and say “What the hell does that mean? Where is this going? What is Harold’s problem??”. This went on all the way to the end of the book. There is so much going on here, I don’t think a review can fully cover it. As any one of my future customers who may ask me what the book is about. I will say I thought it was excellent in its satirizating of the American Dream and what it means(or what you think it means). Ultimately, it’s a novel of redemption. And it’s a fantastically written one at that. The precise sort of book that will have book clubs, book scholars, and booksellers arguing over it. Is it too dark? Well, it’s not light. Is it a happy ending? Well, it’s not the Brady Bunch on mescaline. Is it brilliant? Yes, yes, it is. 

~ by generationgbooks on March 22, 2013.

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