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All This Could Be Yours Reviews

All This Could Be Yours by Jami Attenberg

All This Could Be Yours

Jami Attenberg

3.57 out of 5

4 reviews

Imprint: Profile Books Ltd
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Publication date: 5 Mar 2020
ISBN: 9781788163255

Victor Tuchman - a power-hungry real estate developer and an all-round bad man - is finally on his deathbed. His daughter Alex feels she can finally unearth the secrets of who he really was and what he did over the course of his life. She travels to New Orleans to be with her family, but mostly to interrogate her tight-lipped mother, Barbra. As Barbra fends off Alex's unrelenting questions, she reflects on her tumultuous married life.

4 stars out of 5
John Boyne
22 Apr 2020

"Attenberg has a terrific eye for family dynamics"

All This Could Be Yours is a quietly angry novel, a story of three people who are so broken that they’ve resigned themselves to never finding peace. They get on with their lives but keep a distance from each other, knowing that to start a conversation about the brutalities that have been inflicted upon them is to begin an argument that will have no resolution. One of the great frustrations of the book is that Victor spends most of it lying in a coma, unable to hear the bitter accusations that finally come his way. There is no moment of confrontation, no purgative scene that might allow the reader to feel that he is being punished for his behaviour. It’s a brave tactic on the author’s part, choosing authenticity over catharsis. After all, this, more often than not, is life.

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
3 Apr 2020

"(a) penetrating examination of misogyny and family ties"

Attenberg weaves her narrative with a scintillating and often wry prose; her love for her characters, and her keen interest in their joys and longings, never fails to shine through. Often she sets scenes with the terseness of a screenplay, but periodically she plunges into rich description, as when Twyla, crying, looks in the mirror and notices “lips in distress, cracked at the edges, only half the color left behind, the other half disappeared, god knows where, absorbed into skin, into air, into grief”.

3 stars out of 5
Patricia Nicol
15 Mar 2020

"Told from several perspectives, sometimes Attenberg pans out too far"

In its opening pages, 73-year-old Victor Tuchman has a heart attack. His wife, Barbra, seems relieved. Their grown-up daughter, Alex, responds to her mother’s summons, but perhaps only to ensure that her father does not get away from this one. Victor, we soon learn, was a bad man, a criminal, but also a persuasive monster. Told from several perspectives, sometimes Attenberg pans out too far; this devastating dissection of the impact of bad parenting is at its best when its clever, skilled author keeps her subjects up close.

4 stars out of 5
20 Feb 2020

"... it makes the reader feel more therapist than passive observer"

Attenberg’s prose is nimble, chopping from character to character — even briefly to minor roles, like the shop assistant who encounters Twyla buying lipsticks to ward off an emotional breakdown. Sometimes she pivots to address the reader. “Imagine you met a girl, a beautiful girl — and she was sweet and honest and healthy and clear minded,” she writes about Gary’s relationship with Twyla.It’s a trick she has employed before and it makes the reader feel more therapist than passive observer. In a tale of a family all desperately clamouring to be heard and understood, this feels appropriate.