The Punch by Noah Hawley
Published June 2016 by Hodder & Stoughton
My copy: Library
The Henry brothers could not be more different. Scott is stuck in a dead-end job and has taken to hanging out in some of San Francisco’s seedier dives. David, on the other hand, is a successful travelling salesman, and has not one happy family, but two (one on each coast). Tensions run high as their father’s death brings them together on a road-trip to New York, especially when their alcoholic mother is along for the ride and thinks nothing of revealing a long-held family secret . . .
If you think you have a bit of a messed up family, I can guarantee that you have nothing on the Henry family! They are utterly dysfunctional and there isn’t much to like about any of them. David is living a deceptive double-life, Scott is a mess and their mother Doris is a raging alcoholic. But despite them all being pretty unlikeable, I found their story intriguing and loved to hate them.
As the novel progressed and we found out more about the family’s past, it was easier to understand, to some extent, why some of the characters acted as they did. The novel builds up slowly to the big climax at a family event at the end where everything falls apart.
I did have a problem with this book though. While I really enjoyed the messed-up family and their antics, and I liked the story itself, there was also a lot of rambling inbetween about time, faith and so on which I felt added nothing to the story and much of which just felt out of place. This did spoil my enjoyment of the novel as I found myself skipping several pages to get back to the action. There could have been much more about the main characters and less of the philosophical stuff, and for me this would have improved the novel. But overall I did find this a good read.
My rating: 7 out of 10