The ghost of Richard Nixon haunts A. M. Homes's newest novel, May We Be Forgiven
. Our narrator, Harold Silver, is a Nixon scholar whose brother, George, has lost his mind. First, George commits vehicular manslaughter, and then he commits a terrible murder that leaves his whole family—a daughter and a son, both young adults sorely in need of parental guidance—frightened and desperate for solace. The problem is that Harold isn't the kind of guy who gives solace; instead he seeks out freaky sex acts with lonely women online and tries to ignore all the terrible things that are tearing his family apart. Homes isn't especially showy about it, but she clearly did her research into the worlds of casual internet-spawned sex encounters and Nixon history
. The detail that goes into both self-contained worlds of obsession is not exposition-heavy, but Homes's accounts feel real in their complexity and stomach-churning detail.
At the same time, Harold loses his cushy university job because the history he's teaching isn't "future-forward" enough. He suffers a mild stroke. His only comfort in this time is his secret access to some lost papers of Nixon's that portray, hilariously, another side to the disgraced president...