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The Hour I First Believed: A Novel Kindle Edition
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|Length: 645 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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"Wally Lamb is a remarkable talent." --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- Publication Date : October 28, 2008
- File Size : 1488 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 645 pages
- Publisher : HarperCollins e-books; Reprint Edition (October 28, 2008)
- ASIN : B0018QQQFS
- Language: : English
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #115,802 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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That said, this work of literary fiction by Wally Lamb may not appeal to everyone. (English majors will love it!) Narrated in the first person by Caelum Quirk, this multilayered book is loosely based on the classical myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. And while the characters are imaginary, the events are straight out of the headlines, beginning with the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.
Thrice-married Caelum and his wife, Maureen, are trying to hold their marriage together after she cheats on him and he nearly kills her lover in a jealous rage. They flee from their home in rural Connecticut to quiet and peaceful Littleton, Colorado. He gets a job as an English teacher and she as a nurse at Columbine High School. While Caelum is away on that fateful day, Maureen is there on the front line of fire, hiding in the school library. Although she physically survives, the emotional trauma she suffers at the hands of the killers changes who she is, and she and Caelum must struggle individually and as a couple to put their lives back together.
Plot is secondary to this structurally complex book that is stitched together with bold themes of chaos vs. control and despair vs hope, as well as the myriad destructive forces of violence, the fury of vengeance and the blessing of redemption. And this is made all the more powerful by the potent symbols of the butterfly (our souls) and the praying mantis (good triumphing over evil) that are laced throughout the book.
This is a beautifully written, intelligent book that should be read with care and awe.
city in an adjoining county, Arapahoe (spelled with a final e, although the Native American tribe does not use that e; the book got that wrong, too). Columbine High School is in south Jefferson County, not in any incorporated city. I have extensive first-hand knowlege of the hootings and the many errors were so annoying that the book was spoiled for me.
I also think that there needs to be a dreaded, slightly decretory tone saying for literary fiction about unnecessary but detailed biographical stories of characters like there is for the "info dump" in science fiction. Complex biographical back stories that adds nothing to the plot, doesn't add complexity to the characters, it just bores the readers and shows how shallow the characterization is in the first place. The weird thing is that this biographical detail wasn't needed at all, the characters were already fully fleshed out with sides to their lives that weren't directly tied to moving the plot forward. Not one of the better reads of the year.
I only reservation I have is the delving into the past, which is a bit irritating in this book, but it prepares the reader slowly for some of the outcomes.
Top reviews from other countries
I bought 'The hour I first believed' expecting a personal account of a fictional Columbine survivor.
Approx the first fifth of the book is pre-Columbine and develops the main character, and his relationships with his wife and family.
The next section is given over to Columbine, and long transcripts of the actual killer's videos and diaries. This is space which could have been used to give the character's reactions rather than reproducing information available outside of this book.
Then the book skips ahead a significant period, with Columbine being referenced as the "bifurcation" point of their lives, but this seems to be pushed into the background with all of the many themes which are subsequently shoe-horned into this book: drugs, death, law-suits, illegitimacy, family lost and found, infidelity, family trees, PTSD, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Iraq War. In addition to the overly busy plot, the narrative skips between the main character's viewpoint, letters and diaries from the 1800s, newspaper articles, excerpts from faux books, transcripts from the Columbine killers' journals, the whole of someone's PhD thesis.
As a result it is hard to get invested in any of the characters, of which there are too many spanning hundreds of years. Unfortunately I was skim-reading this book from about halfway through and lost interest in what happened to them.
I would give the author another go as I enjoyed one of his other books until the ending, and the first part of this one, but I was disappointed with most of this book.
Having said that if you have lived any kind of life at all and taken time to think about the effects of what you have done or failed to do you will find much of yourself in this author's writing.
This book is written in a warm compassionate manner full of feeling for those who experience personal disaster and disintegration. It can teach you much about the many ways of coping with disaster and some of the consequences which may follow.
While I am unlikely read anymore of this author, as my reading list is already too long, for the unintiated I say do read at least one of his books.