Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wally Lamb book, "The Hour I First Believed"

I finished the Wally Lamb book, "The Hour I First Believed".  Hmmmmm...some of it I loved.  Some of it I was bored.  All of it was well written.

The subject matter(s) is big.  Huge.  Lamb tackles a lot of stuff.  I think he would have been better off staying with the plot of his broken wife, his broken self and how the echo's of the Columbine shootings kept reverberating until it dissipated (or not). 

There was enough material to write 2 books.  The first story (see above) and a second story about his family history.  Using the Katrina couple,  Janis and Moze as the vehicle to explore the womens prison, fallen women, and the strength and weaknesses of women at the time (which I assume is a subject dear to his heart since he's written a few books about women in prison leaving victimhood behind) just made me a little crazy.  The two characters did nothing for the story.  

I think all families have hidden skeletons but this one had multitudes in every generation.  Big ones.  Too many, too many causes, too many psychological threads that all get tied up towards the end by Caelum.   

I was bored through a lot of the manuscript portions.  I really didn't care that much about Caelums grand-relatives.  I only cared about the choices they made as it pertained to their family, not who they met, who they had dinner with (invaribly a famous historic figure) or how they asked benefactors for money for their cause.  

Neal Stephenson (Cryptonomican, Quicksilver, etc) does that kind of thing better.  I thought it was odd that I'm reading Quicksilver at the same time as "Hour I First.." and found some comparions (reading about Papists and the relatives of Caelum running into famous people: Twain, Stowe, various others).

Lamb is always big.  He tackles big personalities, big feelings and he does it extremely well.  This time I think he just chose to try and put a reason behind every choice instead of letting minor characters stay minor he gave them voices and stories that rivaled the main characters which I think distracted and diluted the main plot.  

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