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Forever: A Novel Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (November 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316735698
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316735698
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (257 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This novel demands that the reader immediately suspend disbelief, but if this summons is heeded the reward will be a superior tale told by Hamill (Snow in August; A Drinking Life) in the cadence of the master storyteller. The year is 1741 and this is the story of Cormac O'Connor-"Irish, and a Jew"-who grows up in Ireland under English Protestant rule and is secretly schooled in Gaelic religion, myth and language. Seeking to avenge the murder of his father by the Earl of Warren, he follows the trail of the earl to New York City. On board ship, Cormac befriends African slave Kongo, and once in New York, the two join a rebellion against the British. After the rising is quelled, mobs take to the streets and Kongo is seized. Cormac saves Kongo from death, but is shot in the process. His recovery takes a miraculous turn when Kongo's dead priestess, Tomora, appears and grants Cormac eternal life and youth-so long as he never leaves the island of Manhattan, thus the "Forever" of the title. What follows is a portrait of the "city of memory of which Cormac was the only citizen." Cormac fights in the American Revolution, sups with Boss Tweed (in a very sympathetic portrait) and lives into the New York of 2001. In that year he warily falls in love with Delfina, a streetwise Dominican ("That was the curse attached to the gift: You buried everyone you loved"), and comes into contact with a descendant of the Earl of Warren, the newspaper publisher Willie Warren. His love, his drive for revenge and his very desire to exist are fatefully challenged on the eve and the day of September 11. This rousing, ambitious work is beautifully woven around historical events and characters, but it is Hamill's passionate pursuit of justice and compassion-Celtic in foundation-that distinguishes this tale of New York City and its myriad peoples.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Cormac O'Connor arrived in New York in 1741-and he's still there, having been granted immortality as long as he remains on the island of Manhattan.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Pete Hamill is a novelist, journalist, editor, and screenwriter. He is the author of 15 previous books including the bestselling novels Snow in August and Forever and the bestselling memoir A Drinking Life. He writes a column for the New York Daily News and lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

This is the second time reading this book.
RobynF
For me, the book's primary flaw was how few flaws the main character seemed to have.
Music Lady
Great book....Well written, incredible story.
R. Hariton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

119 of 123 people found the following review helpful By A O Cazola on January 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Pete Hamill is a legend of New York, and FOREVER feels very much like his magnum opus. It's a wonderfully well thought-out and well researched history of New York City as told through the eyes of one fictional character.
Cormac O'Connor, a young 18th Century Irishman, through an accident in the street and a colision with a mystical destiny finds himself travelling to make a new life in America in the 1740s. Here, he becomes embroiled in a quest for justice, power and vengeance against the man who drove him from Ireland. After an encounter with a powerful shaman, Cormac finds himself granted a power that can be the greatest blessing or the darkest curse...immortality. the only condition is that he never leave Manhattan Island.
The following 250 years trace Cormac as he witnesses and becomes part of the development of NYC. Watching him through the slave revolt, the War of Independence, the War of 1812, the great New York fire, the nineteenth century boomtimes and the tragic events of September 11th, we see Cormac experience life's great emotions, love, loss, success and failure.
Combining a beautiful telling of Celtic mythology with a rich and vibrant civic history, Pete Hamill has created two truly remarkable characters...one is Cormac o'Connor and the other is the City of New York.
Read FOREVER and be glad that you did. It is certainly worth it.
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This novel has a lot going for it. It's by Pete Hamill, a New York City columnist who understands the gritty realities of the city and whose writing is clear and to the point. It's therefore as much about the history of New York City as it is about the lead character. The plot is unique too. A young Irish man, Cormac O'Conner, comes to New York City in 1740 and is given eternal life - just as long as he doesn't leave the borough of Manhattan. Well, that's a book I can relate to. I live in Manhattan myself, and figure that even if I don't travel much, I do live in the best place in the world. And so I expected to embrace this book completely.
At 613 pages, this is a novel to sink into. I looked forward to picking it up again every time I had to put it down. There's a lot of action and colorful images and a true sense of New York City through the years. There's love and war and a quest for revenge. Obviously, the author did a lot of research. However, he tried just a little too hard to make Cormac politically correct at all times, fighting injustice, particularly against African Americans, throughout the book. And, just in case the reader forgets the fact that Cormac has eternal life, the author has him constantly reflecting on the history we have just seen him live through. This is all right up to a point, but it's unnecessarily repetitive and often bogs down the story.
The book is strongest at its beginning and ending sections. The beginning really gets into the life Cormac led in Ireland as well as his early years in New York. And the last section, which incorporates the recent 9/11 tragedy into the narrative, is full of tension, especially since I knew it was coming and kept wondering how the author would have the story play out.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
Billed as a piece of "old-fashioned storytelling at a gallop" [cover quotation from the Washington Post], this swashbuckling tale certainly lives up to the description, although the gallop has a few wild leaps in it. Blacksmith's son Cormac O'Connor emigrates to New York from Ulster in 1740. There, he is given the magical gift of staying young forever, provided that he never leaves Manhattan, and that he "truly lives." Cormac is an attractive character: a fighter and a lover, friend of the dispossessed, and increasingly adept as a linguist, artist, and musician. But the real hero may be the city of New York, seen at various periods from the early days to the present. Hamill the historian is every bit as good as Hamill the storyteller.

I have remarked in other reviews on the tendency of several recent novelists to play around with the way their central characters experience time -- a sort of American Magic Realism. In Andrew Sean Greer's THE CONFESSIONS OF MAX TIVOLI, the hero lives his life backwards. In Audrey Niffenegger's THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE, he skips around freely in time. In Salman Rushdie's THE MOOR'S LAST SIGH, he ages two years for every one. All three writers use their device both to generate suspense and to focus more clearly on the inner life of the character. But while the immortality granted to Hamill's hero makes a wonderful means of displaying the changing face of the city, it greatly reduces the reader's interest in the character himself.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By H. B. Garbe on June 2, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ok, I don't ever write reviews of anything, but after reading a few of the negative reviews here I had no other choice than to post a review of my own. This was one of the best novels I've ever read - Period. I gave up on reading novels years ago because my imagination was far better than any story anyone else had written - I could always figure out what was about to happen next - and I would lose interest very quickly and never finish a book. But this book grabbed me by the shirt collar and carried me through to the end at light speed, all the while DYING to know what came next.

Someone once asked me if I'd read any good books lately, and I told them about this one. They asked me to explain the plot, and I did - to the best of my ability without giving away any of the "good parts". They looked at me like I had three heads, and said, "Uh, no thanks, not my kinda book..." I told them not to go on what I told them but to just read the book for themselves, and they refused. A year later, I was talking about books with someone else, and they asked me the same question. I told them that I'd loan them "Forever", but they couldn't ask me anything about it, they just had to read it. They agreed. Three days later, the book was back on my desk with a Post-It stuck to it reading, "This book was THE BEST!!! Bought one for myself!!! THANK YOU!!!" After discussing the book with them, they said that they didn't want the book to end... Yes, it's that good.

This is a book for those of you who can keep in mind that it's a NOVEL, a STORY... SUSPEND YOUR DISBELIEF for a moment and ENJOY what he's written... Geez Louise! Some people here need to RELAX! lol!

Don't miss this story... it'll take you all of a day and a half to finish it because you won't put it down...
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