Blame (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
Los Angeles as a literary landscape has long been the territory of gritty detective stories and tragic or comedic tales of the glittering denizens of Hollywood. However, the area is also home to quite a few novelists who explore dilemmas of the human heart occurring in lesser-known parts of the region. Michelle Huneven’s novel Blame, which tells of the personal price extracted for a random event, plays out in three environments unfamiliar to most readers: a woman’s prison, the subculture of Alcoholics Anonymous, and the old-money enclaves of Altadena and Pasadena, which have changed very little during the decades of the metropolitan area’s explosive growth.
Six months after Patsy MacLemoore successfully defends her dissertation and earns a Ph.D., she enters the custody of the California correctional system. She has just pled guilty to two counts of criminal negligence resulting in loss of life. The plea bargain was the best deal her attorney Benny could get; she had several prior convictions for driving while under the influence of alcohol and was driving with a suspended license when she hit two Jehovah’s Witnesses, a mother and daughter, in her own driveway. Patsy herself remembers nothing about the accident. She only knows that she blacked out then awakened in jail, finding her joking query, “What’d I do now?” met with stony silence.
Patsy enters prison overwhelmed with guilt and dread. Benny has warned her that...
(The entire section is 1989 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
The Atlantic Monthly 304, no. 3 (October, 2009): 114.
Booklist 105, no. 21 (July 1, 2009): 27.
Library Journal 134, no. 13 (August 1, 2009): 68.
Los Angeles Magazine 54, no. 9 (September, 2009): 72.
The New Yorker 85, no. 33 (October 19, 2009): 87.
People 72, no. 12 (September 21, 2009): 65.
Publishers Weekly 256, no. 20 (July 20, 2009): 122.
(The entire section is 29 words.)