Jami Attenberg – All This Could Be Yours (4 stars)

Jami Attenberg – All This Could Be Yours

An effortless look at an unravelled family left behind by their unpleasant patriarch

Jami Attenberg's seventh novel, All This Could Be Yours, invites us into the aftermath of a family that's already unravelled. Victor Tuchman, a criminal and womanizer who never quite had to face the music, is in a coma following a heart attack and his wife and adult children are left with a multitude of unresolved questions.

Some people have a power and a presence that seems to defy all sensibility, and here Attenberg examines the prevalent cultural anomaly that allows large and unpleasant characters to dominate the world around them as they receive undeserved love and adoration. Everything is already too late for Tuchman, and there's no space for him to explain himself. And what a relief, given this era's excuses, rebuttals and insincere confessions.

Over the course of the short space of time it takes Victor to die, we dive deeply into the lives of his wife and children. Barbara, obsessed with tracking her daily steps, is silent when it comes to her husband's indiscretions. Daughter Alex, a bitingly empathetic character, is desperate to know the truth, while brother Gary stays away, digesting more honesty than he ever wanted.

Attenberg effortlessly swoops between points of view to hone in on the moments that best display people as they are, their travails recorded with a satisfyingly empathetic brusqueness. The novel is a peon to self-protection, hope, and the hard truth that in relationships, even familial ones, 'sometimes love only works one way'.

Out Thu 5 Mar via Serpent's Tail

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