Victor Tuchman is the family patriarch at the center of this swirling dervish of a novel. Victor is at the end of his life; the novel unfolds on the day he has his fatal heart attack.
The quandary here is that Victor was a criminal in his business life, and a tyrant in his personal life. His wife Barbra, pacing the hospital halls, is counting her steps and recounting their dysfunctional life together. Alex, his daughter, an attorney in Chicago, flies to New Orleans, not for her final goodbye, but to cajole her mother into spilling the beans about her father’s criminality. Gary, his son, is in Los Angeles and deliberately misses his flight, unwilling to say goodbye, understandable as he rehashes his life with the abusive man lying in that hospital bed. Gary’s wife, Twyla does visit, her mind wandering through her Southern upbringing and her disastrous, shocking affair.
Attenberg is a master of subtlety as she divulges everyone’s thoughts, including the one-off characters like the clerk at a CVS and the coroner. The unusual twist here is that the reader learns all their stories, while the characters do not.
Verdict: Contemporary family sagas don’t get much better than this, and should appeal to fans of The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen or Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan.
©Library Journal, 2019
10/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
ALL THIS COULD BE YOURS by Jami Attenberg. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (October 22, 2019). ISBN 978-0544824256. 304p.