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May We Be Forgiven

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  8,989 ratings  ·  1,483 reviews
Alternate cover edition for ISBN 9780670025480.

Winner of the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction—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
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published September 27th 2012 by Viking Adult (first published September 1st 2012)
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Clarice Stasz This book is full of irony, a critique of what you mention. For example, Harry and Nate both wonder about their role in helping the village, the fact…moreThis book is full of irony, a critique of what you mention. For example, Harry and Nate both wonder about their role in helping the village, the fact of colonialism. In light of what we know about the surveillence industry, that episode is not unbelieveable. Look at all the TV shows that do the same, and not always with a critical eye. As for Alzheimer's, I know from volunteering that both increased activity and exposure to movement can brighten patients lives. Also, some of these people have been misdiagnosed or overdrugged.(less)

Community Reviews

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Paul Bryant
- You know you were making all these little beeping chortly noises when you were reading this one but then you went quiet and just sort of grunted and ground your teeth.

- I do not do that!

- Well, what went wrong?

- Hmmm (grinds teeth, grunts).

- Well did you like it?

- That’s too hard to answer.

- Well did you like some of it?

- The first 300 pages were brilliant blast of pure diamond black comedy.

- And then?

- I think it jumped the shark.

- Jumped the what?

- The shark. It’s an expression.

- ?

- Meanin
much to enjoy in this flawed but often brilliant sprawl of a novel. its five hundred pages breezed by. parts were great. but two words: magical negro.

and maybe this is a tangential point (and one that speaks about the novel's structural fissures more than any latent racism), but an issue that was important for me and made me in the end disappointed in a book that i had started out rooting for: in its big messy cast, the author pointlessly takes pains to pack in the chinese-american stereotypes.
This book is sort of like this. In case the video doesn't make it clear, it's a roller-coaster. Normally on a roller-coaster there is that sort of long build up while you creak towards the top to be dropped into the rollicking fun. In this one, right after you start what you expect to be a slow ascent, a voice says something like, "There is something wrong", and the cars quickly accelerate up the incline and into the twists and turns.

This book is like that. It starts with with maybe a handful o
Apr 25, 2014 Elaine rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
I can't quite put my finger on why I enjoyed this book so much -- and was sad when it ended, and I couldn't spend more time with bumbling Harold and his hodge podge of a family of brave children, horny MILFs and demented seniors. The novel is basically a story of redemption -- how a cold, solipsistic inept man who has reacted to the traumas of life by immuring himself in routine and a loveless marriage is subjected to a series of Job-like trials (deservedly and some of his own causing), and come ...more
If there was ever a novel in serious need of plot speed-bumps such as weather descriptions, it’s this one. You would think that in a 500 page novel the author would take her time and let things unravel slowly. No, not Homes. It was a crazy ride in a convertible with Homes behind the wheel and me sitting in the back shouting over the wind

“Homes, where are we going? Are we even going anywhere??”

And Homes would shout back

“What? I can’t hear you! We’re going too fast!”

On the first page we meet Harry
A.M. Homes’ novel “May We Be Forgiven” starts exactly the way you want a novel by A.M. Homes to start: Harry Silver is helping his sister-in-law Jane clean up after Thanksgiving dinner at his blow hard, TV exec brother George’s house. During one haul to the kitchen, Jane cozies up to Harry, kisses him, and then dismisses what happened as something she doesn’t want to deconstruct. When Harry almost kind of mentions it to his distant wife Claire, she tells him he’s imagining things. Not long after ...more
B the BookAddict
Sep 06, 2014 B the BookAddict rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: GR
Shelves: fiction, black-comedy

May WE be forgiven if we neglect to read this dark comedy; a rip-snorting, turbulent, sometimes bizarre but thoroughly unexpected read!

Originally written as a short story, I am thrilled that Homes has continued it into a full length novel. And what a novel it is! Legal guardianship, murder, paranoia, family relationships, Nixon history, adultery, litigation, accidents, divorce, the elderly and internet-turned-physical relationships are all present in this savage satire of contemporary America.
The first 15 pages of this novel plunge you into a storyline you won't stop reading. You'll eventually realize you've landed in absurd realism. The story fragments into tangents you least expect, characters behave irrationally, unrealistically, absurdly, but then, somehow, Homes weaves it together into a tale that makes no sense to the brain, but thoroughly explains the heart. Our parents, our children, they are unknowable as simply genetic links that somehow define who we are, but a family can ...more
After a fulminate start, Homes' sharp satire quickly turns into a meandering, saccharine mess with some toilet humour thrown in for good measure.

Basically, 'May we be forgiven' tells the story of one dysfunctional upper middle class Jewish American family that is shattered to its rotten core when the TV-executive father looses his marbles and of how it patches itself together again under the lead of Uncle Harry, a divorced Nixon scholar who simply cannot say ‘no’, turning into one happy, tolera
I'm embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of A M Homes until two months ago and bought this only because it won the Booker against strong odds. I had no idea what May we Be Forgiven was about. I heard it compared to Freedom, the new American novel.
Within the first few pages, I was hooked. It seemed like noir fun. Harry, the narrator and unlikely hero is a schlemiel. Shit just keeps tripping him, falling on him, knocking him down. Harry marshall's on. Picking his niece and nephew up, their
This was the second book that I read on my kindle. I say this because the kindle allows you to read a sample before you buy. I loved the sample; the writing was funny, sharply observed and intriguing. I bought the book.

I quickly realised that reading this book was rather like meeting someone at a party where they are interesting, funny, intelligent, quirky, fun... Reading the book made me uncomfortable. I was desperate to finish it and get it away from me. I found the central character exasperat
The first portion of "May We Be Forgiven" was published as a short story in the New Yorker, and I couldn't put it down. Bizarre family tragedies occur in the life of a man who is detached and bitter but maintains a dark sense of humor that makes the story accessible to the reader.

It should have stayed as a short story. The plot comes to a standstill, the main character feels less real and more like a stick figure (maybe in part because the author is a woman - I'm not convinced she can write an a
This novel becomes more and more unwieldy as the story unfolds. The absurdities Homes creates make you wonder, where is this going? How will this all come together? And somehow, Homes pulls it off. This is my first exposure to her fiction and I'm a fan. There is so much wit and intelligence in this novel. There is heart. Now, to be clear, there are some flaws. At times, the story just becomes absurd. Certain things are glossed over with just a bit too much blitheness, such as Ashley's situation ...more
Leo Robertson
Another book I didn't finish! Yay! Winter has robbed me of concentration required for larger pieces. I got about halfway through though. #NoExcuses #NothingLooksAsGoodAsFatBooksFeel

The writing style was clear and unpretentious, which I liked, and there was some occasional mild funny too.

But literary writers do a great sub-par stand-up routine in their novels, getting away with "I wouldn't have expected them to be funny", as if funny is not their day job, so it doesn't have to be up to scratch. A
((There are very few books that I abandon, and certainly not as early as this one: pg 28. I read, and hated, Homes' The Safety of Objects when it first came out. So very relentlessly grim. Since then I have read some OK stories by her in The NYer, so when my 21st Fiction group chose this as their April book I thought I'd give it a try. Horrible people doing horrible things. If there were maybe a sprinkling of humor, it might be bearable, but life is way too short to subject yourself to such unmi ...more
I have never read A.M. Homes and if this book is a shining sample of her accomplished works, this will be my last A.M. Homes book no offense to the author or her loyal fans. The book is tedious and random. It has very witty and humous moments that ease the pain of irrelevancy to a numbing throb of discomfort. Four hundred and eighty pages of supposed suburban life. The family as a whole is borderline crazy. Harry should be institutionalized. He sits on the fence dangling his legs on both sides d ...more
This is one of those books that, if you write at all, you get about twenty pages in and all you can think is, "I suck." Homes is a master craftslady. I can't remember the last time I've been so completely engrossed in a novel. This book is like an upgraded and updated and (if possible) even darker version of "The Corrections." There's a lot of buzz in the literary world about the new trend in novel writing being a takedown of the seemingly stereotypical upper class family. There's a sick pleasur ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jan 26, 2013 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Leeswammes
I didn't expect to like this book based on the description, in fact last week I put it back down in favor of a different book from the 2013 Tournament of Books list. On the surface, it appeared to be about a middle-aged depressed professor who is making a mess of his life. Been there, read that, not interested in wasting my time on 500 pages of it.

I'm glad I tried it anyway. I'm glad I was won over by the first two lines:
"Do you want my recipe for disaster?
The warning sign: last year, Thanksgivi

"They were absent children, absent of personality, absent of presence, and, except for holidays, largely absent from the house."—page 10

Perhaps no effort or experience is ever really a complete waste of time, but reading this novel, MAY WE BE FORGIVEN, by A. M. Homes—the narrative of which mostly oscillates in a range from 'lame and unpleasant' to outright 'stupid and disgusting'—comes very close.

Recommendation: I'm sorry I read it. And, now that I have, I'd be ashamed to recommend
Alex Duncan
This is a book of tragedy that much is certain. And it's really good!
If I state first and foremost that this is a dark comedy, it may shed light on the fact that the humor and plot is a more than a little out there. The genre of the plot and characters appealed to me because it was well written and I enjoy that sort of thing. As I read this book, I had a constant imagine in my mind that the best writers of SNL were locked in a room with Quentin Tarantino and John Irving prodding A.M. Homes with quirky ideas for each character and the various plots.

To give you an
“Bloviate” – “a style of empty, pompous, political speech which originated in Ohio and was used by United States President, Warren G. Harding who described it as "the art of speaking for as long as the occasion warrants, and saying nothing". This verb, previously unknown to me, seems quite a dangerous word for a writer to include in a 500 page book that, to my mind, flounders around. The author, an admirer of Norman Mailer, Stanley Elkin and Joseph Heller said that she wanted it to be a “roller ...more

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
Dany Salvatierra
I have to admit I'm shocked to see so many possitive comments on this novel, which is the reason why I decided to write a review, even though at first I wasn't even going to bother.

Clearly, the people who actually liked this novel are NOT familiar with the author's previous works. On the contrary, the so-called A.M. Homes fanboys that didn't asked for their money back before getting to the middle of the book are, with all do respect, seriously disturbed. And not in a good, classic A.M. Homes way
3.5 Stars
This book is an entertaining mess. It rips open with fast paced violence and comedy - an interesting mix and one that is not easy to pull off but right in the middle of a horrible act of domestic violence I found myself laughing out loud. Other authors might take a reflective step back after that but not AM Homes. The plot pulsates forward with Homes making sure that every 3 or 4 pages there is something fairly big happening to keep it moving (Internet sex! Orphaned children! Missing Ni
Greg Bates
Cain and Abel meet in a bar owned by Job. The barkeep is Richard Nixon. They order cocktails made from the blood of orphaned children, then the bar burns down. Such is life in A. M. Homes' wonderful, frustrating, hallucinatory May We Be Forgiven, one of the best novels of 2012 and a chronicle of the most horrible, unlucky year to ever exist in literature. There's a South African village owned by a 12-year old boy, a vision quest, a swingers party involving lazer tag, an homage to The Most Danger ...more
Laurie Bryce
I started out intensely disliking this book -- every character seemed depraved. People sleeping with their sister-in-laws and picking up strangers in the supermarket, students having lesbian affairs with their teachers, husbands inviting their wives' lovers over for a barbeque, relatives handing a child over to the people involved in the death of the child's parents, daughters abandoning their parents to near-strangers, and so on ... ewwww. No character seemed likable and they were all just so m ...more
Bonnie Brody
Harold Silver, a professor who specializes in Nixon, finds his whole life changed after his brother, George, is in an automobile accident that kills three of the victims. George appears to have been in a fugue state during the accident, or was it perhaps intentional?

Harold also has done something taboo - he kissed George's wife, Jane, during Thanksgiving and then obsesses on Jane for weeks afterwards. He tries to tell his own wife, Claire, about his misdeed and obsession for Jane but Claire does
Some time in the late 80s or early 90s, Umberto Eco wrote a series of essays, largely about America and Americana, published under the title Travels in Hyper-Reality. Had AM Homes’ May We Be Forgiven been around at the time, it may well have featured as one of Eco’s journeys. Reading it – at least the first half – is to forsake any hope of verisimilitude and open the door to hyper-reality. There are no real people in Homes’ book; they're hyper-people, exaggerations of characters with deliberatel ...more
A.M. Homes’ book May We Be Forgiven is the story of Nixonologist Harry Silver’s one year journey from a catalytic kiss from his sister-in-law through mayhem, murder and madness followed by physical, mental, social and familial breakdown, divorce and redundancy to stability, equilibrium and finally redemption.
The first half is brutal. It is the mid-life crisis to end all mid life crises but the suffering is mitigated by a dark, rich, black humour that made me laugh every day I read it. Homes has
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A.M. Homes (first name Amy) is the author of 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 short-story collections, Things You Should Know and The Safety of Objects, the travel memoir, Los Angeles: People, Places and The Castle on the Hill, and the artist's book Appendix A: An Elaboration on the Novel the End of A ...more
More about A.M. Homes...
This Book Will Save Your Life The End of Alice The Safety of Objects Music for Torching The Mistress's Daughter

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“There is a world out there, so new, so random and disassociated that it puts us all in danger. We talk online, we ‘friend’ each other when we don’t know who we are really talking to – we fuck strangers. We mistake almost anything for a relationship, a community of sorts, and yet, when we are with our families, in our communities, we are clueless, we short-circuit and immediately dive back into the digitized version – it is easier, because we can be both our truer selves and our fantasy selves all at once, with each carrying equal weight.” 15 likes
“I'm feeling how profoundly my family disappointed me and in the end how I retreated, how I became nothing, because that was much less risky than attempting to be something, to be anything in the face of such contempt.” 10 likes
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