All This Could Be Yours

Houghton Harcourt. Oct. 2019. 304p. ISBN 9780544824256. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780544824270. F
Victor Tuchman is the family patriarch in this whirling dervish of a novel. The story unfolds on the day he has a fatal heart attack. 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. Daughter Alex, an attorney in Chicago, flies to New Orleans, not for a final goodbye but to cajole her mother into spilling the beans about her father’s criminality. Gary, Victor’s son, is in Los Angeles and deliberately misses his flight, unwilling to say goodbye,—which is understandable, as he rehashes his life with the abusive man lying in the hospital bed. Gary’s wife, Twyla, does visit, her mind wandering through her Southern upbringing and a disastrous, shocking affair. Attenberg (All Grown Up) is a master of subtlety as she divulges everyone’s thoughts, including the one-off characters such as the clerk at a CVS and the coroner. The unusual twist here is that readers learn all their stories while the characters do not.
VERDICT Contemporary family sagas don’t get much better than this novel, which should appeal to fans of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections or Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach. [See Prepub Alert, 3/25/19.]

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