Friday, May 30, 2014

Review: The Hour I First Believed

The Hour I First Believed
The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Three stars seems harsh for such a long novel. It merits 3.5 stars. I've been waiting several years to read one of Mr. Lamb's novels, but was put off by the huge page counts.

The Hour I First Believed is well-written (although I have concerns about the meandering plot and minutiae of details Lamb provides). Unfortunately the novel lived up to my initial fears that it would be too long. As it turned out, this story could have been written in half the amount of pages without losing anything in either substance or style. The reader wouldn't have cared any less about the events at Columbine nor about any of the main characters. I personally could live without reading about the narrator's tenant's research paper quoting the narrator's own great-grandmother's letter to her sister describing the wallpaper pattern in Mark Twain's house. I could also do without an extensive, tedious and pointless (as it turned out) product placement of Rheingold beer, the low point in the story's narrative for me.

This was the first Wally Lamb novel I read, but if all of his novels are like this one, I will not be reading another one.

I would nonetheless recommend it to those readers who like reading for its own sake. My guess is that they will thoroughly enjoy it, assuming they can stomach the topic of school shootings.

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