Friday, August 11, 2017

May We Be Forgiven, by A.M. Homes

This is a bit mortifying, but it reinforces why I started this blog in the first place. A couple of weeks before I took off on a two-month trip, I went to my local arts cinema, which has a book swap. I was looking for a novel to take with me, something with literary substance yet physically lightweight. I carried this book with me and read it in Portugal, Spain, Scotland, and the Republic of Georgia. As I sat here to write about it, I could not recall the author's name, the book's title, nor anything about the plot. I vaguely recalled admiring it and having enjoyed reading it. Years ago, my mother, then in her 70s, told me that sometimes she'd come home with a library book and wonder, halfway through it, if she'd read it before. I found that mind-boggling. Suddenly I can commiserate, drawing a total blank on a book I finished only two months ago.

Finally, the author's name came back, and from that I could look up the title. When I read the synopsis, I wondered, Seriously, how could you forget a plot line like that?!  

Harold Silver, a middle-aged, somewhat dweebish Nixon scholar, has a brief affair with his sister-in-law, who is suddenly and gruesomely murdered by her husband (Howard's older brother), who has "anger issues."  Read: he's mad as a hatter. Harold, reeling from his own loss, tries to parent their two children, navigate his own divorce, jump-start his stalled Nixon biography, and deal with his brother's commitment in an increasingly bizarre series of institutions. Harold gives the impression of being numbly pliable, just drifting along as life throws him one curve-ball after the next, and that pliability proves to be his salvation.

May I be forgiven for letting this book slip my mind briefly. It deserves to be remembered. It is, as the Independent noted in the cover blurb, "a huge-hearted, expansive book."  I wonder, are we more prone to forget books that we read while travelling, when there are so many other things overwhelming our senses?

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