May We Be Forgiven
Viking Adult, 2012; 496 pages.
A.M. Homes’ newest novel presents the story of a modern-day Job, except without the righteousness. Harold Silver is about to have the worst year of his life, but it is thankfully held in the careful hands of Homes, who is funny, extremely skilled, and just perfect for this kind of contemporary tragicomic novel.
Harold is a broken man who is a magnet for other broken people. After his psychopathic brother, George, destroys the family, Harold is left to pick up the pieces, including raising George’s two children, Nate and Ashley. Harold doesn’t know the first thing about children, particularly teenaged ones, and he stumbles through this new fog of his life, in which every person he’s supposed to rely on turns out to be stupider than the next. (In many ways, Harold reminds me of Michael Bluth: The character who is supposed to be the voice of reason among a throng of idiots but makes plenty of his own huge mistakes.)
Despite being unbearably sad at points, Homes keeps the level of comedy high throughout this book. Guion and I ended up reading large portions of it aloud to each other, mainly because it was more entertaining than watching a sitcom or anything else of comparable comedic value.
This is a story about families, both biological and constructed, and the damage that the people closest to us can inflict. This is a story infused with wit and joy, even in the darkest and strangest of situations. This is a story that deserves to be read, for its pleasures are myriad.