May We Be Forgiven, A M Homes, Viking Penguin, 2012, 466 pp
I started out almost hating this book and ended up loving it. A M Homes appears (if you believe everything you read on the Internet) to have a prickly reputation for upsetting people and going out on limbs as a writer. This is the first I have read by her.
She DID upset me for the first long while in the novel. Despicable George, the younger asshole brother, who by the way is the only character who changes not a whit. All the violence, gratuitous to the max. I thought I was in for a slog through our dysfunctional, medicated, materialistic world including horrid kids.
Then there is Harry, the older brother. Such an interestingly complex character who changes big time from indecisive, sexually weird victim to responsible, caring human being. In fact, the degree of change is almost not believable except that A M Homes so competently chronicles his every experience and his inner life through a first person voice without excess of any kind. By the end I was wishing there were more men like him in the world.
Lest I have made it sound like this is merely a sad, heavy story (actually it is), let me assure you that great heaps of absurdity, satire, and laugh out loud moments abound. Did I mention the kids? Yes, she does kids perfectly and they are not wholly horrid.
Instead of a slog, I was treated to a romp through our dysfunctional, medicated, materialistic world which addresses the true questions of our times: what is the meaning of family anyway and how do we recreate it out of the mess we have made?
Out of a list of 16 novels for the 2013 Tournament of Books, I have found six so far that are exceptionally good and May We Be Forgiven is one of them.
(May We Be Forgiven is available in hardcover and eBook by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)