This is my review of May We Be Forgiven by A. M. Homes.
When Harry breaks a taboo by having sex with his sick brother's wife, he has to deal with the chain of consequences. The author pulls no punches in presenting them all, be they macabre or mundane, with the same deadpan delivery, which may account for the emotional coldness of the book which some reviewers have noted.
After the ghoulish hook of the almost casually shocking opening chapters, the book settles down into a meandering farce, a kind of black sitcom in which Harry drifts through the often callous and smutty world of a series of quirky incidents, some of his own making but others the result of fate, which could be spawned indefinitely. Depending on your sense of humour, these may be sufficient to entertain you, but I was troubled by the hollowness of it all. This novel may be intended as a biting satire on contemporary American society, plus the back-cover blurb speaks of the two brothers' search for absolution, but I looked in vain for the thought-provoking insights, pyrotechnic displays of brilliant writing, or clever plot twists which would have made this clearly worth reading.
Holmes has a vivid imagination coupled with a remarkable lack of inhibition and a sharp sense of comedy, but even with the small font size, the book reaches its surprisingly soft-centred ending perhaps 150 pages too late.