April 21, 2015

March-April: I Know This Much Is True

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb was our second attempt at a two-month read; it's the only way we can knock out a 900 page beastie like this one. We picked I Know This Much Is True because we wanted to read a Wally Lamb book and Ann recommend this one.

Wally Lamb came to Omaha last Saturday; the original plan was that we would all attend to tie into our reading. Then we discovered that it was a library fundraiser with $80 ticket prices. So Linda and Ann represented for the Bookworms and both agreed it was well worth the price - a good cause, good eats, and they really enjoyed Lamb's 45 minute talk. He talked about his years teaching (including working with teachers who'd taught him when he was in high school) and about the long-term relationship he'd had with a man who had written him a letter after reading Lamb's first book, She's Come Undone.

We had planned to meet twice to discuss this one but circumstances meant that we only met in April after we had finished the whole book. Which, I'm happy to say, almost every did! Feelings about the book were mixed, not necessarily in a bad way. Both Nancy and one Lisa said they would not have finished the book had it not been our selection and Lisa said she could hardly get through the first hundred pages. But Linda had two pages of notes which is a good sign; she's the best at finding the funny bits in any book! The other Lisa felt like her interest in the book waxed and waned and several of us felt that the grandfather's part of the book was too long, even though much of it tied into the present day story line. Interestingly, Ann said that Lamb reported that this is the part of the book he wrote first and built the rest of the story around it; it was the easiest writing he'd ever done. We all agreed that Lamb's writing is exceptional, even if there were things about the book itself we didn't care for. Lamb does a great job of tying together a lot of themes without hitting readers over the head with them, although some of us felt that it started to get to be too many things. And certainly too many screwed up people!

Cheryl, being an identical twin, took issue with some of the differences between the Birdsey twins; she felt that identical twins wouldn't have these particular differences. It was noted that Lamb has cited several sources for twin research. There was discussion about whether or not Dominick and Thomas Birdsey were actually biologically identical twins or merely fraternal twins who looked nearly identical but Lisa was sure that Lamb wrote that the boys had been biologically tested and found to be identical.

We talked about Dominick's ability to forgive - from an ex-girlfriend to a stepfather who had abused him. Ray would have been a man of a certain generation, a certain kind of man who would have known no other way so we thought we could forgive him much but several of us felt that because his treatment went well beyond a "heavy hand" it would be hard to forgive. We also talked about the symbolism of the monkey and the rabbit which appeared in many ways in the book but, to be honest, none of us really figured out why a rabbit and a monkey.

There's much more we could have discussed...if we hadn't gotten so wrapped up in other topics both personal and book related!