I finally finished 752 pages of The First Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb. Let me tell you- I’m all for quality over quantity; even if big chunks of pages are descriptive and necessary, its outcome can be epic. But after reading his first novel She’s Come Undone, this book was more than a tad-bit disappointing.
It’s a fiction about a 47 year-old high school teacher Caelum and his wife, the school nurse, who get jobs at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO. When Caelum travels to Conneticut to attend his aunt’s funeral, his wife is greeted by two high school outcasts with murder on their agenda. The tragic event traumatizes her psychologically and she never fully recovers from the emotional turmoil. They move out of CO into Caelum’s aunt’s old house in CT. That really should’ve just been the objective of his tragic novel. However, Lamb continues to develop a sequence of unfortunate events that really… fill up all seven hundred pages. As Caelum and his wife hires several consultants & therapists to heal their marriage, Caelum’s family’s historical satire unfolds before his eyes. Lamb goes on and on about the family history – into FIVE generations- that leads to Caelum discovering unimaginable secrets with redundant characters. 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.
His first novel was such an aspiration to contemporary American literature. She’s Come Undone was written entirely from a female’s perspective, which was more notable coming from a male author. He grasped a majority of female emotional experiences- I was shocked to find out (at the end of the book) that the author was Wally Lamb. There were also scenes of female bisexuality that was graphic but at the same time credible & convincing. His second novel I Know This Much Is True was another 500-page book but the story was more captivating and unique. (Definitely a recommendation.) Anyway, his newest novel was a disaster in itself. I didn’t enjoy it too much, and there were many chapters that could have been left out. The editor should have done a better job. haha jk. I’m nobody to judge Wally Lamb, but I hope his next novel will be a better one…
dee’s rec: 3/5