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May We Be Forgiven

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  14,445 ratings  ·  2,001 reviews
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 a beautiful home in the suburbs of New York City. But Harry, a historian and Nixon scholar,
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published September 27th 2012 by Viking (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)
Stef Rozitis I found it more depressing than 1984 because of the way it makes light of domestic violence and other really horrible excesses of violence. But none o…moreI found it more depressing than 1984 because of the way it makes light of domestic violence and other really horrible excesses of violence. But none of that matters so long as we cook the bird well for Thanksgiving. The lightness and fluff for me add to the depressiveness at the heart of it. If you love denial and escapism though you might read it differently.(less)

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Average rating 3.67  · 
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 ·  14,445 ratings  ·  2,001 reviews

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Paul Bryant
Aug 28, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
- 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
Oct 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: us, humor

I do not know how to rate this book. The first part was amazing whereas the second half almost ruined everything. I really want to give this book a higher rating as I had such high hopes when I started reading it.

The first part was a brilliant, fast paced, crazy dark comedy. The story is about the brutal fall of a family. There is our hero who constantly lives in the shadow of his more successful brother who has a secret. He has a murderous temper and when it is let lose everything goes dow
Dec 13, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 31, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: pub-2012
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
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 09, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
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
Tyler Goodson
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: six-stars, book-club
555 stars. Just finished reading page 480 and I would be happy to turn back to page 1 and start again. I think it's safe to say I am a Homes disciple at this point. A lot of books build and build and end with something tragic, but this novel starts with tragic and asks, "How do we rise above? How do we come together?" It ends on Thanksgiving day, a new family coming together, one whose members have helped each other rise above. I think we would be welcome. Have a seat. ...more
Dany Salvatierra
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Nov 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-fiction
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
Leo Robertson
Jun 08, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Got about halfway through my re-read of this one. Still wasn't compelled enough to get through it unfortunately.

I did skip to the end to see how it turned out--seemed like the plot's mania got forced to come around full circle.

It also seemed like I was supposed to have genuinely considered the moral implications of the story's premise (revealed early on so not that much of a spoiler): guy cheats on his wife with his brother's wife, who is then murdered by the brother. Is guy implicated?? The ton
Nov 24, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

"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
Read By RodKelly
Too much to unpack. This is an amazing novel!
Jun 29, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2019
I think Aunt Lillian got this book spot on when she described the household in the book as a bunch of freaks, a random collection of people. This book has a brief tragedy at the beginning and then bugger all happens for the next 400pages, I read this to the end just incase something did happen, but alas all you get is to meet some freaky/weird people and watch as the main character collects people to live with him. It comes across like the writer has never interacted with another person and has ...more
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 23, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
(3/10) May We Be Forgiven comes highly recommended to me by a lot of critics and reviews who I respect. I saw it pop up on a lot of best-of-the-year lists. Which is why it's so surprising that this is one of the worst book I've read in quite a while, and certainly the worst book I've read 500 pages of. This isn't a "not my cup of tea" thing either -- this is a "are we talking about the same book?" thing.

The novel is about Harold Silver, a professor who has to step into his brother's place after
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Dec 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a surprisingly divisive book. I say surprisingly because I really enjoyed it and was expecting to read universal, unequivocal acclaim, however for all the reviews praising the book, there are plenty of readers who seem less convinced by its charms.

This book was given to me as a birthday gift and is the second book I have read by AM Homes. The first was "This Book Will Save Your Life" which I read when it came out and also really enjoyed.

'May We Be Forgiven' is bookended by two consecuti
Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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
Dec 15, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Greg Bates
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012, best-of-2012
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
Alex Duncan
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a book of tragedy that much is certain. And it's really good! ...more
Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dark-comedy
Winner Women's Prize for Fiction 2013 - This near vitriolic satire / dark comedy on the disintegration of three families leading to the creation of a new type of family.A story that involves internet dating, a Richard Nixon obsessive, a Bar Mitzvah in rural South Africa, a free-for-all criminal internment camp and much more. What a great writer, what great read! 8 out of 12.
Mar 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
((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
The Cats’ Mother
Giving up at page 63. I got this from my book club, I don’t remember what the person who brought it said about it, but the quotes on the back called it hilarious/laugh out loud funny - they lied - and it won the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013, which says it all about literary prizes.

A resentful history professor from New York inherits his successful younger brother’s house, fortune, pets and children when the brother brutally kills his wife after a psychotic break. I don’t know if we find out wh
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Savidge Reads: May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes (2013) 4 29 Nov 19, 2019 05:48AM  
What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Family drama - affair / murder / Nixon. [s] 5 106 Oct 22, 2019 02:08AM  
Westmont Ladies B...: NEXT BOOK 1 9 Aug 14, 2014 07:50PM  
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Goodreads Librari...: Created a new book instead of new edition 3 34 Nov 25, 2012 03:38PM  

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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

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