Winner: Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013
Harold Silver, a Richard Nixon Scholar, has spent a lifetime watching his younger, taller, and more successful brother, George. But Harry knows that George has a murderous temper, and when he finally loses control the result is an act of violence which hurls the two brothers into entirely new lives. A savage and dizzyingly inventive vision that penetrates the dark heart of contemporary America to tell a darkly comic tale of 21st-century domestic life and how one deeply fractured family might begin to put itself back together.
©2012 A. M. Homes (P)2012 W F Howes Ltd
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"Perfect comic timing"
I usually prefer reading, but in this case, the audiobook was just amazing.
Nathan Osgood has perfect comic timing, whether impersonating the insecure protagonist, his indifferent mother or his wise-beyond-his-age cousin.
"A real man in a surrealistic situation"
He asks for a lot of empathy, Harry, the protagonist of this book. He is the man you hate to love, just like his favorite politician, Richard Nixon is the man people love to hate.What happens, especially in the beginning of the storry is not an everyday story, but the author persuades us to believe it. Sometimes funny, sometimes moving, but always bizarre.
And just the right number of 'actors' to make it possible to follow the story by listening while walking.
"Loved this book."
Yes. The book is well written, well read and I really enjoyed listening to it.
The book is complex enough to appeal to literary types but is a good story too so is easy to listen to (or read presumably)
It seems to me perfect to listen to. It's my first audiobook for a while.
I liked the insight that it gave me into my own life and problems.
I could listen to it in my car! Not sure if I would have read it otherwise.
A slight comment is that the female voices got slightly grating after a while (several hours of listening of course). Osgood is a man so not sure what he could have done about that.
Don't believe the other negative views. This book is fantastic, crazy, compelling, funny and touching. Buy it.
"All about Harry"
This is the story about what happens to Harry after his brother's terrible act. The brothers cannot be more different. George is violent and dominant whereas Harry is reflective and scholarly. Despite that Harry is still capable of wrongdoing and this is really a tale about Harry's quest for forgiveness.
This book is filled with intriguing characters and fascinating little vignettes, some of which were incredibly tense, but mostly they were hilarious. There are parts of this tale that made me laugh out loud and the dry New York humour is a delight. I must admit I didn't completely understand the sub-text about Richard Nixon but that didn't really detract from my enjoyment. The only slight criticism I would make is that I thought the plot fizzled out towards the end. I also would have liked to have learned more about Harry's relationship with George. I thought their exchanges were the best parts of the book and I wish there were more.
The narrator is does a brilliant job and is perfect for the material. I would have given this 4.5 stars if I could.
"Perfectly pitched satire - along with a plot"
If you like your humour satirical, bone-dry and pitch-black, you will probably like this acidic novel whose premise is the state of 21st century American life, and society.
The plot is quite meandering and although the main characters are middle-class, professional Americans, you do feel the ferrous under-tow of sub-culture, of people falling through the gaps in society - or deliberately slipping away from the 'norms'.
It is also a story of love, murder, family, damage and friendship. I found it very edgy and so it is not a relaxing read, but it did fascinate me.
The key characters are Jewish New York state Americans and a lot of the pleasure in the book is to be had from these often very funny cast-members. The thread about the main character's Nixon obsession was very enjoyable too.
Very well written prose and the narration is good. The reader has a gruff voice and yet managed to convey the characters with often very tiny changes to his tone.
Content is fairly adult (sexually) and quite graphic (medically/physically), not that it bothered me, but you might not have it on during the school run.
"I love anti-heroes!"
A hero despite himself and his upbringing
Harrry, flaws and all and Nate
Never heard Osgood before but would choose again based in this. He is sympathetic and human in his delivery
If I could but time would not allow!
Harry is a bit of an antihero, and put me in mind of Willaim Boyd's A Good Man in Africa, but he redeems himself so much more. The book is touching, funny and life affirming but not at all twee. Not sure that I really got the Nixon issues! All men are flawed???
Engaging, interesting, enjoyable
A lot can happen in a single year, which is what happens from one Thanksgiving to the next.
This made me laugh out loud a number of times.
Although I very much enjoyed this book, I felt it was over long. I was beginning to tire of some of the characters before the end, which is unusual for me (sometimes I dread a book ending as I have become so engrossed with the characters). I also struggled with the lack of realism about much of the plot. I probably read it because of its prize winning status and can understand why it succeeded.
"May she be forgiven"
This is a female writer's attempt to enter the persona of middle-aged Jewish male via 1st person narration. I discovered this quite late but it explains the momentous failure of the attempt. I loved the start – ascerbic outrageous multivocal snappy before slow descent into American slush – like so many movies. Worse, she increasingly fails to conceal the gender of her voice ending up with this ridiculous super-idealised father figure with all his saintly instincts intact. Yuck! I hated it and couldn’t wait for it to end – after recommending it to people at the ½ way stage. Such a disappointment
"Not what I expected at all!"
The first 100 pages of this book were drama filled...full of shocking murders and near death occurrences and things that go bump in the night. The stage was set; Who would go to trial? What would come out at the trial? And were things really as they seemed? On top of that, it was funny and quirky and endearing with just that slight twinge of eccentricity that homes does so well. So far, so good. And then it took a bit of diversion into old school American politics and internet dating...hmmm...Ok, I'll have patience as the writer is still talented enough to keep me engrossed even though I'm kinda keen to get back to the story as I understood it to be. It turns out that the diversion is not a diversion at all. Many hours later, I realized with resignation that the diversion had become the story. I found out more than I ever needed to know about President Nixon, I cringed in disbelief as woman after woman threw themselves at the ailing boring auld fart that was the main character. So it's about a journey of discovery for said ailing boring auld fart. It's just that the dude was soooo...well, I couldn't care less about him really. He didn't at all have the humility of the chap in 'This book will save your life'. The story was very over weight and flaccid and so needed a good editor with to pull it into shape. I was pleased enough with the ending, as in, their was a happy enough resolution, but God...It was a very long 21 or so hours.
"good in parts"
Several funny moments mostly unrelated to to the farcical plot swists.
Suited the book.
Plot became strained and ended in an orgy of motherhood and apple pie, you can almost hear the star spangled banner. On the other hand, I listened to the end and laughed out loud a few times. 3.5 is probably fair.
"Cain and Able in America"
I feel compelled to write a review since the others are so poor. I really enjoyed this book with its story about brothers at odds with each other, a shocking event that comes of their rivalry, and the eventual evolution of the central character into someone who cares and allows himself to change. It is not an exciting adventure but an unfolding examination of American lives and how a man can still grow and deepen as he gets older. It kept me absorbed and gave me food for thought. If you're looking for a romp, or an action story, this is not the one, but if you want something more thoughtful - give it a go.
Its started off well but it got boring.
No real story to speak of, maybe I didn't get it but I am not the only one.
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