Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wally Lamb

I get positively giddy when a book I have read gets placed on Oprah's book list. It's like I'm racing Oprah to find great quality books out there and so far I've done a pretty good job.

One of the books I read before she did was Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone. I don't know many women who haven't read this book and loved it. I loved it so much I bought it and I am half way through reading it again for the third or fourth time.

What amazes me so much about this book is how Lamb, a male author, gets it so right when writing about Dolores Price. I don't know if he has daughters or not, but for a man to get a female character so exactly precise as he did with Dolores isn't an easy task. I admire him for it.

I admired him so much, in fact, that I read his second book, I Know This Much is True on summer break from college back in the day. I liked it up until the end where it seemed Lamb got sick of writing it and neatly tied up every loose end in the matter of 20 pages. If you've seen this book you know that it's almost 3 inches thick. I was disappointed.

But I'm getting over it.

I just reserved Lamb's newest book, The Hour I First Believed, at the bookstore. Here's the skinny:
When forty-seven-year-old high school teacher Caelum Quirk and his younger wife, Maureen, a school nurse, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April 1999, Caelum returns home to Three Rivers, Connecticut, to be with his aunt who has just had a stroke. But Maureen finds herself in the school library at Columbine, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed, as two vengeful students go on a carefully premeditated, murderous rampage. Miraculously she survives, but at a cost: she is unable to recover from the trauma. Caelum and Maureen flee Colorado and return to an illusion of safety at the Quirk family farm in Three Rivers. But the effects of chaos are not so easily put right, and further tragedy ensues.

While Maureen fights to regain her sanity, Caelum discovers a cache of old diaries, letters, and newspaper clippings in an upstairs bedroom of his family's house. The colorful and intriguing story they recount spans five generations of Quirk family ancestors, from the Civil War era to Caelum's own troubled childhood. Piece by piece, Caelum reconstructs the lives of the women and men whose legacy he bears. Unimaginable secrets emerge; long-buried fear, anger, guilt, and grief rise to the surface.

As Caelum grapples with unexpected and confounding revelations from the past, he also struggles to fashion a future out of the ashes of tragedy. His personal quest for meaning and faith becomes a mythic journey that is at the same time quintessentially contemporary—and American. - from Harper Collins
Has anyone read this book? Is it any good? Suggestions? Comments? Anything?


Kristina P. said...

I haven't even heard of this author, but the books sound very intriguing.

Anonymous said...

I really loved his first two when I was in high school, but haven't given them a second read since. My roommate was starting the new one, but I haven't heard whether it's any good yet. After 10 years, it better be, right? He's so research heavy in his work - I think that's what draws me to him. I suspect the Columbine aspect of the most recent book is what held it up for so many years? Maybe?

Lisa said...

I too love Wally Lamb and his first two books. However, I have read the newest book, and I didn't love it as much as the first two. I was riveted by the Columbine piece of the story, but I didn't love the middle to end of the story. I liked the character development, and it was thoroughly researched. But I felt unsatisfied with the ending.

Mimi said...

Damn! Why can't Lamb write a satisfying ending! sheesh....thanks for the warning, Lisa.