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Michelle Huneven, Richard Russo once wrote, is "a writer of extraordinary and thrilling talent." That talent explodes with her third book, Blame, a spellbinding novel of guilt and love, family and shame, sobriety and the lack of it, and the moral ambiguities that ensnare us all.
The story: Patsy MacLemoore, a history professor in her late twenties with a brand-new Ph.D. from Berkeley and a wild streak, wakes up in jail--yet again--after another epic alcoholic blackout. "Okay, what'd I do?" she asks her lawyer and jailers. "I really don't remember." She adds, jokingly: "Did I kill someone?"
In fact, two Jehovah's Witnesses, a mother and daughter, are dead, run over in Patsy's driveway. Patsy, who was driving with a revoked license, will spend the rest of her life--in prison, getting sober, finding a new community (and a husband) in AA--trying to atone for this unpardonable act.
Then, decades later, another unimaginable piece of information turns up.
For the reader, it is an electrifying moment, a joyous, fall-off-the-couch-with-surprise moment. For Patsy, it is more complicated. Blame must be reapportioned, her life reassessed. What does it mean that her life has been based on wrong assumptions? What can she cleave to? What must be relinquished?
When Huneven's first novel, Round Rock, was published, Valerie Miner, in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, celebrated Huneven's "moral nerve, sharp wit and uncommon generosity." The same spirit electrifies Blame. The novel crackles with life--and, like life, can leave you breathless.
Publishers Weekly Review
© Publishers Weekly
Bunch of nothing
Wow, what a waste of time this was, not to mention $10. It kept my interest for a while, but just kept dragging on and on. Glad it's over.
Finding a Focus
This started out as a promising read - a young alcoholic woman in a blackout runs over two women in her driveway. Her fate is sealed. She goes to jail,she joins AA, she meets an older AA advocate - well, there is so much baggage and way too many people. Her life seems to go no where. And, alas, for me the excitement of the book stopped, too. Perhaps if the story focused on fewer years and developed some of the other characters, it might have held more interest. As it is, it was like reading the diary of a person who stopped living once she sobered up.
A beautifully written story of our fragility, ignorance and ability to soar when we face our challenges with curiosity and compassion for ourselves and others.