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.
About the Author
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.
Praise for Blame…
“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