All This Could Be Yours

All This Could Be Yours

by Jami Attenberg

Hardcover

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Overview



“All hail Jami Attenberg, the queen of dysfunctional families.” —Refinery29

Big Little Lies meets Succession in the scorching heat of the Big Easy . . . Money, power and family are touched upon through Attenberg’s emotional, humorous and sharply written accounts.” —Parade

“This is how you write a very good novel about a very bad man.” —New York Times

From critically acclaimed New York Times best-selling author Jami Attenberg comes a novel of family secrets: think the drama of Big Little Lies set in the heat of a New Orleans summer

“If I know why they are the way they are, then maybe I can learn why I am the way I am,” says Alex Tuchman of her parents. Now that her father is on his deathbed, Alex—a strong-headed lawyer, devoted mother, and loving sister--feels she can finally unearth the secrets of who Victor is and what he did over the course of his life and career. (A power-hungry real estate developer, he is, by all accounts, a bad man.) She travels to New Orleans to be with her family, but mostly to interrogate her tightlipped mother, Barbra.

As Barbra fends off Alex’s unrelenting questions, she reflects on her tumultuous life with Victor. Meanwhile Gary, Alex’s brother, is incommunicado, trying to get his movie career off the ground in Los Angeles. And Gary’s wife, Twyla, is having a nervous breakdown, buying up all the lipstick in drug stores around New Orleans and bursting into crying fits. Dysfunction is at its peak. As each family member grapples with Victor’s history, they must figure out a way to move forward—with one another, for themselves, and for the sake of their children.

ALL THIS COULD BE YOURS is a timely, piercing exploration of what it means to be caught in the web of a toxic man who abused his power; it shows how those webs can tangle a family for generations and what it takes to—maybe, hopefully—break free. With her signature “sparkling prose” (Marie Claire) and incisive wit, Jami Attenberg deftly explores one of the most important subjects of our age.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780544824256
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 10/22/2019
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 25,475
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author


JAMI ATTENBERG is the New York Times best-selling author of seven books of fiction, including The Middlesteins and All Grown Up. She has contributed essays to the New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Sunday Times, and Longreads, among other publications. She lives in New Orleans.

Read an Excerpt


He was an angry man, and he was an ugly man, and he was tall, and he was pacing. Not much space for it in the new home, just a few rooms lined up in a row, underneath a series of slow-moving ceiling fans, an array of antique clocks ticking on one wall. He made it from one end of the apartment to the other in no time at all—his speed a failure as much as it was a success—then it was back to the beginning, flipping on his heel, grinding himself against the floor, the earth, this world.
 
The pacing came after the cigar and the Scotch. Both had been unsatisfactory. The bottle of Scotch had been sitting too close to the window for months, and the afternoon sun had destroyed it, a fact he had only now just realized, the flavor of the Scotch so bitter he had to spit it out. And he had coughed his way through his cigar, the smoke tonight tickling his throat vindictively. All the things he loved to do, smoking, drinking, walking off his frustrations, those pleasures were gone. He’d been at the casino earlier, hanging with the young bucks. Trying to keep up with them. But even then, he’d blown through that pleasure fast. A thousand bucks gone, a visit to the bathroom stall. What was the point of it? He had so little left to give him joy, or the approximation of it. Release, that was always how he had thought of it. A release from the grip of life.
 
His wife, Barbra, sat on the couch, her posture tepid, shoulders loose, head slouched, no acknowledgment of his existence. But she glanced at him now as he paused in front of her, and then she dropped her head back down again. Her hair dyed black, chin limping slightly into her neck, but still, at sixty-eight years old, as petite and wide-eyed as ever. Once she had been the grand prize. He had won her, he thought, like a stuffed animal at a sideshow alley. She flipped through an Architectural Digest. Those days are gone, sweetheart, he thought. Those objects are unavailable to you. Their lives had become a disgrace.
 
Now would have been an excellent time to admit he had been wrong all those years, to confess his missteps in full, to apologize for his actions. To whom? To her. To his children. To the rest of them. This would have been the precise moment to acknowledge the crimes of his life that had put them in that exact location. His flaws hovered and rotated, kaleidoscope-like, in front of his gaze, multicolored, living, breathing shards of guilt in motion. If only he could put together the bits and pieces into a larger vision, to create an understanding of his choices, how he had landed on the wrong side, perhaps always had. And always would.
 
Instead he was angry about the taste of a bottle of Scotch, and suggested to his wife that if she kept a better home, none of this would have happened, and also would she please stop fucking around with the thermostat and leave the temperature just as he liked. And she had flipped another page, bored with his Scotch, bored with his complaints.
 
“The guy downstairs said something again,” she said. “About this.” She motioned to his legs. The pacing, they could hear it through the floor.
 
“I can walk in my own home,” he said.
 
“Sure,” she said. “Maybe don’t do it so late at night, though.”
 
He marched into their bedroom, stomping loudly, and plummeted headfirst onto their bed. Nobody loves me, he thought. Not that I care. He had believed, briefly, he could find love again, even now, as an old man, but he had been wrong. Loveless, fine, he thought. He closed his eyes and allowed himself one last series of thoughts: a beach, sand bleached an impenetrable white, a motionless blue sky, the sound of birds nearby, a thigh, his finger running along it. No one’s thigh in particular. Just whatever was available from a pool of bodies in his memory. His imaginary hand squeezed the imaginary thigh. It was meant to cause pain. He waited for his moment of arousal, but instead he began to gasp for air. His heart seized. Release me, he thought. But he couldn’t move, face-down in the pillow, a muffled noise. A freshly laundered scent. A field of lavender, the liquid cool color of the flower, interrupted by bright spasms of green. Release me. Those days are over.
 
 
Ninety minutes later an EMS worker named Corey responded to his last call of the day. The Garden District. A heart attack, seventy-three-year-old male.
 
 

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All This Could Be Yours 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Melissa_W 22 days ago
All This Could Be Yours is composed of the most dysfunctional of dysfunctional people. Victor (the father) is terrible and even though he is comatose in his hospital bed he is everywhere in this narrative, Barbra (the mother) is emotionally withdrawn and obsessed with her appearance, Alex (the daughter) is angry at her mother and can be vindictive, Greg (the son) deals with the situation by refusing to show up, and Twyla (the daughter-in-law), as it turns out, is having a breakdown because of something she has done. Now, there is nuance to each of these stories, of course - except Victor, there is no nuance to a guy who is the Jewish version of a Mafia property developer and who idolizes The Sopranos. The trick is that Jami Attenberg is such a good writer she can take a book that is stocked with particularly unlikeable characters and make the story compelling. I kept on reading because a) I wanted know if Victor was going to get it in the end and b) to see if the other characters straighten themselves out (maybe? I think by the end of the book most of them have managed to shake Victor's grip). The granddaughters, Sadie and Avery, are excellent and I wished they had made more appearances in the book. This is also an excellent book to read if you like fiction where the setting feels like a character. New Orleans as a location plays a huge part in the story as several characters wander around the city, or escape it. The weather, specifically the humidity and heat of the Mississippi River delta, plays into this. The only thing I really didn’t like was that it was a bit hard to follow as the narrative shifted from present to past and between characters. There was a long chapter in Barbra’s point-of-view that gave us a long chunk of backstory but it jumped around as she power-walked around the nursing unit. I do have to give a trigger warning for domestic violence on the page. I also have to note that one character (and two others to a lesser degree) has internalized fatphobia and feminine beauty standards to an extreme and so there are a number of comments about women's appearances that feel quite a bit squicky.
SouthernMamaK 22 days ago
Emotional upheaval gives way to reflection as one family comes to terms with the impending death of an abusive patriarch. As always, the writing is wonderful. Each character is well-developed and thoughtful. Jami Attenberg has a of tapping in to your humanity; you connect with her characters, even the ones who aren’t that likable, on a visceral level. Even if you don’t agree with their decisions, you respect the broken place it comes from, and come to understand the origin of their dysfunction. Of all the characters, Alex is the one I gravitated towards most. She struggled to find acceptance—both of herself and for the sake of her daughter—while also being desperate to understand why her mother wasn’t able to bond with her in a more meaningful way. Her search for answers is what drove the plot but, along the way, you’re given the baggage of her brother Gary (whose confusion about what a man is, in relation to the world and to love, turned him into a rudderless ship), Twyla Gary’s wife), Barbra (the wife of the patriarch), and Sharon (the coroner). I’m at this very moment I’m trying to recall the patriarch’s name but I despised him as much as they did and don’t feel the need to reopen the book just to find out. The latter alone speaks to how well Attenberg can tap into human emotion. The story is as much a case study on how we heal as it is an example of how we can become broken. It’s one that resonated with me for reasons I cannot describe, but is also a read that needs to be ingested slowly as the content can be heavy and hard to swallow. Thank you to Edelweiss+ for this Advanced EGalley. Opinion is my own.
miss_mesmerized 4 months ago
A heart attack will surely be the end of Victor, it is just a question of days and until he breathes for the last time. His wife Barbra visits him in hospital, accompanies him during these last days remembering the good, but most all the bad times they had together. Their daughter Alex also rushes to New Orleans to say good-bye, even though she is reluctant to do so. Their son Gary, however, refuses to see his father. He hides in Los Angeles and is unwilling to even talk to his family. Victor was a man with two faces, one for the family and one for the world outside. He was successful, at least it seemed so, but his success was founded on his character and this undoubtedly had some very dark spots. “(...) it was then she realized that the stories he told were bad, that he did bad things. Even though he thought he was a hero. Simultaneously bored and intrigued, she asked him if what he did was illegal. ‘No one is innocent in this life. (...)’ “ Victor is a man of action, he knows what he wants and he knows how to get it. Contradiction and opposition are not things he tolerates, neither at work nor at home. If somebody dares to disobey, he either bullies them – like his secretaries – or smacks and beats them, like his wife and children. Now, immobile and comatose, he is not in control anymore and he cannot have any influence on his family members’ thoughts. That’s when all that has been hidden for so many years, finally surfaces. Jami Attenberg’s latest novel gives an insight in a highly dysfunctional family. The head of it ultimately hors de combat, the toxic structures and behaviour come to the light. You wonder how and why a wife could ever accept and endure such a life, yet, the deeper you dive into Barbra’s thoughts, the more comprehensible her actions and behaviour become. She is weak and has never been ready to fight. Victor provided her with a certain standard of living and her contribution was never to dig deep, not to look too closely, but to ignore what she learnt over all those years at his side. “Ah yes, the children. She hadn’t wanted them; Victor had. But her body was needed for production.” The relationship between the parents and the children has always been cold. The mother never prevented the abuse just as she accepted how Victor treated herself. The daughter Alex seems to struggle most with it. She is caught between an understanding of what to do before you lose someone forever – forgive, forget, make peace – and her actual feeling which highly contradict this. Even when Victor is in agony, he makes life hard for his next of kin. “All This Could Be Yours” is very cleverly constructed novel. Even in his absence, this very bad man domineers his family’s thoughts and shows that he is capable of ruining everybody’s life. Wonderfully written and brilliantly made from a psychological point of view, there is not much you could wish for more in a novel.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Luminous and wrenching--a truly great family novel with three magnificent female characters at the center.
Anonymous 6 months ago
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