Read March 2014
A bizarre book – it reads like a series of set pieces connected only by the continuity of the main character, Harry Silver. After sleeping with his sister in law, his brother kills her, resulting in their children living with Harry, who has crisis after crisis before gradually gathering more and more people around him.
There’s a kind of old fashioned morality tale in the book – Harry starts out unfocused, lost, not attached to anything, narcissistic. But over time he becomes a member of a community and finds value in looking after people, ending up surrounded by a strange family he picks up over time.
But the author’s verdict on this is ambiguous. The family aren’t exactly his family – the kids of his dead sister in law, a death he is partly responsible for; another kid whose parents were killed by his brother; the ageing parents of a woman he met in the A&P and had a casual relationship with. Is it wrong that he is surrounded by all these people and that this has given him purpose? Or is it a reflection of the complexity of modern day families and communities?