Reviews in 200 Words

Blame by Michelle Huneven

In Novel on September 20, 2009 at 1:31 pm


There’s something very easy–even rewarding–about shaking a head and tsk-tsking a crime as careless as drunk driving. Such an I’m-better-than-that thing to scold. Who hasn’t thought back on nights under the influence that could have killed a bar full of people? But Patsy MacLemoore isn’t unlucky, she’s an alcoholic; it probably should have happened years before. Patsy’s a good person: a history professor, a goal-setter, a friend. Somehow Huneven avoids the wagging-finger “don’t judge” lesson. Patsy runs over a mother and daughter. She kills them. She doesn’t even remember it. Huneven gives us these things and we still like Patsy. She has so many normal flaws. Huneven jumps around in time, which only makes time seems unending and tedious. Patsy points out guilt: makes us feel okay about having a third drink, and then forces us to pour it and the rest of the bottle down the sink. We’re just like her. This is a horror story; a thriller, but in a very calm way. Prison is a real place: hunger to the point of being cold all the time, hazing on the playground of some strange adult recess, using the toilet in front of male guards who get off on it all. Ultimately the book’s title is fitting, Huneven plays the game of assigning blame, but also the reality of living guilt.


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