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I Know This Much Is True

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I Know This Much Is True

With his stunning debut novel, She's Come Undone, Wally Lamb won the adulation of critics and readers with his mesmerizing tale of one woman's painful yet triumphant journey of self-discovery. Now,...
With his stunning debut novel, She's Come Undone, Wally Lamb won the adulation of critics and readers with his mesmerizing tale of one woman's painful yet triumphant journey of self-discovery. Now,...
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Description-
  • With his stunning debut novel, She's Come Undone, Wally Lamb won the adulation of critics and readers with his mesmerizing tale of one woman's painful yet triumphant journey of self-discovery. Now, this brilliantly talented writer returns with I Know This Much Is True, a heartbreaking and poignant multigenerational saga of the reproductive bonds of destruction and the powerful force of forgiveness. A masterpiece that breathtakingly tells a story of alienation and connection, power and abuse, devastation and renewal--this novel is a contemporary retelling of an ancient Hindu myth. A proud king must confront his demons to achieve salvation. Change yourself, the myth instructs, and you will inhabit a renovated world.

Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    On the afternoon of October 12, 1990, my twin brother Thomas entered the Three Rivers, Connecticut Public Library, retreated to one of the rear study carrels, and prayed to God the sacrifice he was about to commit would be deemed acceptable. Mrs. Theresa Fenneck, the children's librarian, was officially in charge that day because the head librarian was at an all-day meeting in Hartford. She approached my brother and told him he'd have to keep his voice down or else leave the library. She could hear him all the way up at the front desk. There were other patrons to consider. If he wanted to pray, she told him, he should go to a church, not the library.

    Thomas and I had spent several hours together the day before. Our Sunday afternoon ritual dictated that I sign him out of the state hospital's Settle Building, treat him to lunch, visit our stepfather or take him for a drive, and then return him to the hospital before suppertime. At a back booth at Friendly's, I'd sat across from my brother, breathing in his secondary smoke and leafing for the umpteenth time through his scrapbook of clippings on the Persian Gulf crisis. He'd been collecting them since August as evidence that Armageddon was at hand--that the final battle between good and evil was about to be triggered. "America's been living on borrowed time all these years, Dominick," he told me. "Playing the world's whore, wallowing in our greed. Now we're going to pay the price."

    He was oblivious of my drumming fingers on the tabletop. "Not to change the subject," I said, "but how's the coffee business?" Ever since eight milligrams of Haldol per day had quieted Thomas's voices, he had managed a small morning concession in the patients' lounge--coffee and cigarettes and newspapers dispensed from a metal cart more rickety than his emotional state. Like so many of the patients there, he indulged in caffeine and nicotine, but it was the newspapers that had become Thomas's most potent addiction.

    "How can we kill people for the sake of cheap oil? How can we justify that?" His hands flapped as he talked; his palms were grimy from newsprint ink. Those dirty hands should have warned me--should have tipped me off. "How are we going to prevent God's vengeance if we have that little respect for human life?"

    Our waitress approached--a high school kid wearing two buttons: "Hi, I'm Kristin" and "Patience, please. I'm a trainee." She asked us if we wanted to start out with some cheese sticks or a bowl of soup.

    "You can't worship both God and money, Kristin," Thomas told her. "America's going to vomit up its own blood."

    About a month later -- after President Bush had declared that "a line has been drawn in the sand" and conflict might be inevitable -- Mrs. Fenneck showed up at my front door. She had sought me out -- had researched where I lived via the city directory, then ridden out of the blue to Joy's and my condo and rung the bell. She pointed to her husband, parked at the curb and waiting for her in their blue Dodge Shadow. She identified herself as the librarian who'd called 911.

    "Your brother was always neat and clean," she told me. "You can't say that about all of them. But you have to be firm with these people. All day long, day in, day out, the state hospital van just drops them downtown and leaves them. They have nowhere to go, nothing to do. The stores don't want them -- business is bad enough, for pity's sake. So they come to the library and sit."

    The foregoing is excerpted from I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022

About the Author-
  • Wally Lamb is the author of four previous novels, including the New York Times and national bestseller The Hour I First Believed and Wishin' and Hopin', a bestselling novella. His first two works of fiction, She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, were both number one New York Times bestsellers and selections of Oprah's Book Club. Lamb edited Couldn't Keep It to Myself and I'll Fly Away, two volumes of essays from students in his writing workshop at York Correctional Institution, a women's prison in Connecticut where he has been a volunteer facilitator for fifteen years. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Christine. The Lambs are the parents of three sons.

Reviews-
  • Associated Press "Every now and then a book comes along that sets new standards for writers and readers alike. Wally Lamb's latest novel is stunning -- and even that might be an understatement ... this is a masterpiece."
  • USA Today "An exercise in soul-baring storytelling -- with the soul belonging to twentieth-century America itself. It's hard to read and to stop reading, and impossible to forget."
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