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May We Be Forgiven: A Novel Hardcover – September 27, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin; 1st edition (September 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670025488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670025480
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.2 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (194 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


 
Praise for May We Be Forgiven

“An entertaining, old-fashioned American story about second chances…A.M. Homes is a writer I’ll pretty much follow anywhere because she’s indeed so smart, it’s scary; yet she’s not without heart…May We Be Forgiven [is] deeply imbued with the kind of It’s A Wonderful Life-type belief in redemption that we Americans will always be suckers for, and rightly so.” —Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air
 

“Cheever country with a black comedy upgrade…Homes crams a tremendous amount of ambition into May We Be Forgiven, with its dark humor, its careening plot, its sex-strewn suburb and a massive cast of memorable characters...its riskiest content, however, is something different: sentiment.  This is a Tin Man story, in which the zoned-out Harry slowly grows a heart.” —Carolyn Kellogg, The Los Angeles Times
                                                                        

“Darkly funny…the moments shared between this ad hoc family are the novel’s most endearing…Homes’ signature trait is a fearless inclination to torment her characters and render their failures, believing that the reader is sophisticated enough – and forgiving enough – to tag along.”  —Katie Arnold-Ratliff, Time Magazine
                                                                      

“Homes, whose masterful handling of suburban dystopia merits her own adjective, may have just written her midcareer magnum opus with this portrait of a flawed Nixonian bent on some sort of emotional amnesty.” —Christopher Bollen, Interview
 

“At once tender and uproariously funny…one of the strangest, most miraculous journeys in recent fiction, not unlike a man swimming home to his lonely house, one swimming pool at a time:  it is an act of desperation turned into one of grace.” —John Freeman, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“A big American story with big American themes, the saga of the triumph of a new kind of self-invented nuclear family over cynicism, apathy, loneliness, greed, and technological tyranny…this novel has a strong moral core, neither didactic nor judgmental, that holds out the possibility of redemption through connection.”  –Kate Christensen, Elle
 

“Heartfelt, and hilarious…Although Homes weaves in piercing satire on subjects like healthcare, education, and the prison system, her tone never veers into the overly arch, mostly thanks to Harold – a loveably earnest guy who creates his own kind of oddball, 21st century family.” –Leigh Newman, O The Oprah Magazine
 

“A.M. Homes has long been one of our most important and original writers of fiction. May We Be Forgiven is her most ambitious as well as her most accessible novel to date; sex and violence invade the routines of suburban domestic life in a way that reminded me of The World According to Garp, although in the end it’s a thoroughly original work of imagination.” –Jay McInerney

“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
 
 
“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

 
“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

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

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.

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Customer Reviews

I am halfway through this book, but don't know if I will be able to finish it.
R. Joe Zeidner
Of course, too much introspection gets a little bit tedious, but her characters never seem to pause to feel really traumatic events.
Nerissa Keay
The writer and the reader have compassion for the characters, flawed as they are (like ourselves).
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Cary B. Barad on October 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This novel embodies a clash of two literary themes. The opening chapters are quite spicy--garnished with quirky, kinky, violent, depraved and hypersexual scenarios--followed later by a Pollyannaish morality tale which turns into one extended Kumbaya chant. In these chapters a sugary patina is applied to just about everyone-- the pets, the geriatric set, the children, the adulterers, etc. Suddenly, all are supersensitive philosophers, global ecumenicists--respectful, improbably intelligent, well-behaved and philanthropic. Money never seems to be a problem to these folks and exorbitant spending sprees ensue. To be quite honest, however, the Richard Nixon thread is done very well and the literary quality is actually quite high overall. As a result, I have no problem giving this book a 4-Star rating.
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Format: Hardcover
In novels like THE END OF ALICE and MUSIC FOR TORCHING, A.M. Homes hasn't shied away from grim subjects, pedophilia and school gun violence only two of them. Her new novel returns to familiar territory --- the American suburbs --- to tell a powerful story of despair and redemption, all the while probing what she's consistently sought to expose, in the vein worked by writers like Richard Yates and John Cheever, as the real heart of darkness at the core of suburban life.

Homes observed in a recent interview that "Despite the sense that things are looking up now, there remains an ongoing level of discomfort, an unarticulated anxiety about what will `go wrong' next." That's the spirit that looms over this story. It begins with two violent acts perpetrated by George Silver, a prominent television executive with anger management issues and the younger brother of Harold Silver, the story's narrator. The first is a car accident that kills a mother and father, leaving behind their young son. The second, George's murder of his wife when he returns home to find her in bed with Harold, launches Homes' protagonist on a lurching journey of self-discovery.

Though the disasters that cascade over Harold (divorce, illness and job loss only a few of them) at times rises almost to a Job-like level, that's where the similarities to the biblical character end. On his own behalf the most he can say is, "Before this happened, I had a life, or at least I thought I did; the quality, the successfulness of it had not been called into question." Clearly, he's more acted upon than actor.
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63 of 73 people found the following review helpful By J. S. bartley on October 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I've read two of Homes' books before and loved both of them. When I read the awful reviews on Amazon, I debated whether to read it or not. In general, I won't read a book unless it's rated 4 stars and above. I really enjoyed this book. The only reason that I don't give it 5 stars is that I realize that this is not a book for many people. I enjoyed Harold's ride of life through the book. I thought he became a pretty good person despite his background and the bad things that happen to him in the book. I think his sex life is totally unbelievable but since I thought this book was filled with comedy, I took the sex sequences as part of the comedy. I enjoyed the Nixon side of the book because I was around during his presidency and the mess he made of it. I liked how Harold's life just grew around him, almost without him trying, because he was basically a nice guy. Most families have some type of dysfunction in them and Harold's family has plenty. However, who would not care for a sick brother or sick mother? Who would not care for the other characters that come into Harold's life. I think Homes has a good insight into our lives and it shows in this good book.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By JoAnne Goldberg VINE VOICE on December 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I don't have a lot of patience with books that don't deliver. Forgiven may be the longest book I've read all year, but never once was I tempted to skip to the end and move on to the next candidate on the nightstand. Reading the book was like sinking into an impossibly comfortable chair: I simply took pleasure in being immersed in the story and feel a little lost now that I have finished.

There are a bunch of downer reviews here that focus on the book's grim beginning and a few other sordid plot points. But a 25-words-or-less summary of Forgiven doesn't do the book justice. In fact, this is not a book with much of a plot, although a lot happens, ranging from the mundane to the no-seriously-that-could-never-have-happened. The action-packed first chapter sets the tone: readers who are willing to jump in and hang on after that whirlwind introduction are the kind of people who can ignore their inner skeptics and enjoy the ride.

Mostly, Forgiven is about characters who undergo significant transformations over the course of a year (a fact that Homes feels compelled to broadcast; we get the point). Homes has the ability to infuse a fairly large cast with such authenticity that by the time I was halfway through the book, Harry and his entourage seemed like old friends, or family, or maybe people I didn't like very much but still appreciated for their quirkiness. With a deft hand and trenchant wit, she keeps the reader not just engaged but eager to flip to the next page.

Not that this book is for everyone, as the single-star reviews will attest. It's not a fast-paced mystery, its characters are not glamorous, and the thematic foundation is of the mundane middle-aged angsty sort. But if you like dark humor, if you're not above snark, and if you are looking for a book to live in for a few hundred pages, Forgiven may be your next new favorite too.
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