By Michelle Huneven
(Picador, Paperback, 9780312429850, 304pp.)
Publication Date: May 25, 2010
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FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD
FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE
CHICAGO TRIBUNE FAVORITE FICTION OF THE YEAR
O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE TEN TERRIFIC READS OF THE YEAR
A WASHINGTON POST BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A KANSAS CITY STAR 100 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
Patsy MacLemoore, a twenty-eight-year-old history professor with a brand-new Ph.D. and a wild streak, wakes up in jail—yet again—after another epic alcoholic blackout. This time, though, a mother and daughter are dead, run over in Patsy’s driveway. Patsy will the next decades of her life atoning for this unpardonable act. She goes to prison, sobers up, marries a much older man she meets in AA, and makes ongoing amends to her victims' family. Then, another piece of news turns up, casting her crime, and her life, in a different and unexpected light. Brilliant, morally complex, and often funny, Blame is a breathtaking story of contrition and what it takes to rebuild a life from the bottom up.
Michelle Huneven is the author of two previous novels, Round Rock and Jamesland. She has received a General Electric Foundation Award for Younger Writers and a Whiting Writers’ Award for fiction. She lives in Altadena, California.
Correspondent Susan Stamberg gathers recommendations for the season's best books from booksellers Rona Brinlee, Daniel Goldin and Lucia Silva. Their selections include comics about philosophy, novels about building families, and a box set that dives into the process of writing. More at NPR.org
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- How were you affected by the shift from Joey’s world to Patsy’s? What does the closing line of part one (capturing Joey’s belief that her mother had not died but was alive and well at the Bellwood Hotel) say about the nature of hope, illusion, and grief?
“Michelle Huneven’s novel Blame [is] one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read in years.”—Jennifer Weiner, CBS’s Sunday Morning
“A novel that combines the compulsive pleasures of a page-turner and the deeper satisfaction of true, thoughtful literature.”—Entertainment Weekly“Unfolds like a thriller, creating a sense of urgency and mystery even about everyday matters. . . . Huneven's prose moves like a hummingbird, in small bursts that are improbably fast and graceful.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Smart, deep, addictive . . . Huneven's language hums, her dialogue jumps. . . . There are so many eye-popping scenes I would need to take my shoes off to count them.”—GQ
“Wonderful . . . How do you build lasting relationships when the world insists on crumbling around you? That's Huneven's theme here, and she does a lovely job with it.”—The Washington Post
“An elegant, hair-raising novel . . . Huneven's prose is flawless.”—The New Yorker
“The satisfactions Blame offers readers are elegant prose and, deeper than that aesthetic pleasure, the intelligence and compassion Huneven brings to her characters. She holds them all with the utmost tenderness.”—Los Angeles Times
“Michelle Huneven’s new novel, Blame, is a lovely, shimmering tour de force, full of an astonishing sense of the beauty of the world, the inestimable complexity of moral consequences, and the bright pleasures of Huneven’s prose. Read it.”—Roxana Robinson, author of Cost
“In Blame, a guilty protagonist strives for the good and achieves the beautiful—and, eventually, the truth. Huneven’s supple, world-loving prose elevates small gestures into redemptive acts and everyday objects into restorative gifts, rewarding the reader on every page.”—Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and Paint It Black
“Huneven turns complicated moral issues into utterly riveting reading in this beautifully written story of remorse and redemption.”—Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist (starred review)
“This book is a pleasure, on every level.”—Sue Miler, Bookforum
Praise for Jamesland
“Michelle Huneven is a writer of extraordinary and thrilling talent, and Jamesland is a marvel.”—Richard Russo
Praise for Round Rock
“Like that other West Coast chronicler of struggling Americans, Raymond Carver . . . [Huneven] is not interested in literary pretension or postmodern razzle-dazzle, but in achieving a measure of truth—and her generous, engaging novel does just that.”—Valerie Sayers , The New York Times Book Review