VJ Books Blog

(LJWorld.com, Dec. 1)

Wally Lamb’s new novel, 450,000 copies of which have just arrived in bookstores, is big enough to threaten Thanksgiving and maybe even Christmas, as readers ignore turkey basting and tinsel tossing to turn the 723 wide-ranging, heavily plotted pages of “The Hour I First Believed.”

Lamb writes big books. And popular ones. Oprah Winfrey added the paperback edition of “She’s Come Undone” and Lamb’s 900-page second novel, “I Know This Much Is True,” in her Book Club, a bestowal that invariably sends the anointed novel on a rocket ride.

Although there are dozens of characters in Lamb’s new novel, it has at its center the cranky and disconnected Caelum Quirk and his wife, Maureen. Their marriage splinters over an infidelity. Seeking a new start, they move from Connecticut to Colorado. Caelum, a teacher, and Maureen, a nurse, each get jobs at Columbine High School. When Caelum is away, Maureen witnesses the 1999 rampage of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold that left 15 dead and many more injured.

The tragedies and trials faced by Caelum and Maureen are contemporary, even the nonfictional ones. Deciding to graft the actual event, including the names of the victims, into his fictional account, was tricky. But, Lamb said, “I felt that as a high school teacher for 25 years I could put myself in those corridors and empathize.”

See Wally Lamb’s signed books at www.vjbooks.com