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I Know This Much Is True

by

I Know This Much Is True Cover

ISBN13: 9780060391621
ISBN10: 0060391626
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

When you're the same brother of a schizophrenic identical twin, the tricky thing about saving yourself is the blood it leaves on your bands--the little inconvenience of the look-alike corpse at your feet. And if you're into both survival of the fittest and being your brother's keeper--if you've promised your dying mother--then say so long to sleep and hello to the middle of the night. Grab a book or a beer. Get used to Letterman's gap-toothed smile of the absurd, or the view of the bedroom ceiling, or the influence of random selection. Take it from a godless insomniac. Take it from the uncrazy twin--the guy who beat the biochemical rap.

Dominick Birdsey's entire life has been compromised and constricted by anger and fear, by the paranoid schizophrenic twin brother he both deeply loves and resents, and by the past they shared with their adoptive father, Ray, a spit-and-polish ex-Navy man (the five-foot-six-inch sleeping giant who snoozed upstairs weekdays in the spare room and built submarines at night), and their long-suffering mother, Concettina, a timid woman with a harelip that made her shy and self-conscious: She holds a loose fist to her face to cover her defective mouth--her perpetual apology to the world for a birth defect over which she'd had no control.

Born in the waning moments of 1949 and the opening minutes of 1950, the twins are physical mirror images who grow into separate yet connected entities: the seemingly strong and protective yet fearful Dominick, his mother's watchful "monkey"; and the seemingly weak and sweet yet noble Thomas, his mother's gentle "bunny." From childhood, Dominick fights for both separation and wholeness--and ultimately self-protection--in a house of fear dominated by Ray, a bully who abuses his power over these stepsons whose biological father is a mystery. I was still afraid of his anger but saw how he punished weakness--pounced on it. Out of self-preservation I hid my fear, Dominick confesses. As for Thomas, he just never knew how to play defense. He just didn't get it.

But Dominick's talent for survival comes at an enormous cost, including the breakup of his marriage to the warm, beautiful Dessa, whom he still loves. And it will be put to the ultimate test when Thomas, a Bible-spouting zealot, commits an unthinkable act that threatens the tenuous balance of both his and Dominick's lives.

To save himself, Dominick must confront not only the pain of his past but the dark secrets he has locked deep within himself, and the sins of his ancestors--a quest that will lead him beyond the confines of his blue-collar New England town to the volcanic foothills of Sicily 's Mount Etna, where his ambitious and vengefully proud grandfather and a namesake Domenico Tempesta, the sostegno del famiglia, was born. Each of the stories Ma told us about Papa reinforced the message that he was the boss, that he ruled the roost, that what he said went. Searching for answers, Dominick turns to the whispers of the dead, to the pages of his grandfather's handwritten memoir, The History of Domenico Onofrio Tempesta, a Great Man from Humble Beginnings.

Rendered with touches of magic realism, Domenico's fablelike tale--in which monkeys enchant and religious statues weep--becomes the old man's confession--an unwitting legacy of contrition that reveals the truth's of Domenico's life, Dominick learns that power, wrongly used, defeats the oppressor as well as the oppressed, and now, picking through the humble shards of his deconstructed life, he will search for the courage and love to forgive, to expiate his and his ancestors' transgressions, and finally to rebuild himself beyond the haunted shadow of his twin.

Set against the vivid panoply of twentieth-century America and filled with richly drawn, memorable characters, this deeply moving and thoroughly satisfying novel brings to light humanity's deepest needs and fears, our aloneness, our desire for love and acceptance, our struggle to survive at all costs. Joyous, mystical, and exquisitely written, I Know This Much Is True is an extraordinary reading experience that will leave no reader untouched.

Synopsis:

A Note From the Author
" Reading a novel is a highly personal experience and I think different readers will take different things from it. As for me, the experience of writing the book has reinforced for me the truths that Dominick had to learn: that love grows from forgiveness, that " mongrels" make good dogs, and that the roundness of life's design may be a sign that there is a presence beyond ourselves."

Topics for Discussion
As an award-winning teacher of writing, Wally Lamb has been honored for his exceptional ability to communicate the power and majesty of the written word to his students. Hoping to inspire thoughtful discourse on his own novel, Wally has graciously supplied these discussion questions.

  • Wally Lamb has said that what interested him most about his character, Dominick Birdsey, was the protagonist's conflictedness. Discuss some of the ways in which, as both child and adult, Dominick is pulled in opposing directions and wrestles with conflicting emotions.

    How does this novel reflect the attitudes toward and the treatment of the mentally ill as they have evolved through the 20th century?Do you see Dominick Birdsey as a hero or an anti-hero? Why?

    The author has commented that his discovery of an ancient Hindu myth, " The King and the Corpse, " allowed him to discover, in turn, Dominick's story. In this ancient tale, a cadaver whispers riddles into the ears of a naive king and the solving of these puzzles allows the king to save himself. In what ways does the plot of "I Know This Much Is True follow a similar path

    Wally Lamb has said, " Whereas Dolores Price, the main character of my first novel, "She'sCome Undone, deals with her pain and fear by imploding, Dominck tends to wrestle with pain and fear by exploding." Do females and males tend to respond differently to emotional pain? If so, why

    The principal female characters of this novel are Concettina Birdsey, Dessa Constantine, Lisa Sheffer, Dr. Rubina Patel, Ignazia Tempesta, and Prosperine Tucci (the monkey). Discuss "I Know This Much Is True"'s depiction of women.

    Wally Lamb has stated that a worthwhile novel should not only draw you into the story but also kick you in the pants so that you'll be more inclined to go out and fix the world. Do you agree or disagree?

    "I Know This Much Is True is in development as a major motion picture. If you were the casting director, which actors would you choose for the major roles?

    Discuss the themes of mirror vs. images, wholeness vs. fragmentation, connection vs. separation as they are explored in "I Know This Much Is True.

    To what extent is Dominick Birdsey's life shaped by his ethnicity? To what extent do you feel your life is defined by the place and the culture of your forebearers? Discuss. About the Author: Wally Lamb's first novel" She's Come Undone received rave reviews when it was published in 1992. The book was a finalist for the "Los Angeles Times Book Awards' Art Seidenbaum Prize for First Fiction and was named as one of the most notable books of the year by numerous publications, including "The New York Times Book Review and "People magazine. A graduate of the Vermont College MFA in Writing program, Lamb currently teaches at the University of Connecticut. He is the recipient of an NEA grant for fiction and a "Missouri Review William Peden fiction prizewinner. A nationally honored teacher of writing, he lives in Connecticut with his wife and their three sons.

  • Synopsis:

    Dominick Birdsey's entire life has been compromised and constricted by anger and fear, by the paranoid schizophrenic twin brother he both deeply loves and resents, and by the past they shared with their adoptive father, Ray, a spit-and-polish ex-Navy man (the five-foot-six-inch sleeping giant who snoozed upstairs weekdays in the spare room and built submarines at night), and their long-suffering mother, Concettina, a timid woman with a harelip that made her shy and self-conscious. Born in the waning moments of 1949 and the opening minutes of 1950, the twins are physical mirror images who grow into separate yet connected entities: the seemingly strong and protective yet fearful Dominick, his mother's watchful "monkey"; and the seemingly weak and sweet yet noble Thomas, his mother's gentle "bunny". From childhood, Dominick fights for both separation and wholeness - and ultimately self-protection - in a house of fear dominated by Ray, a bully who abuses his power over these stepsons whose biological father is a mystery. But Dominick's talent for survival comes at an enormous cost, including the breakup of his marriage to the warm, beautiful Dessa, whom he still loves. And it will be put to the ultimate test when Thomas, a Bible-spouting zealot, commits an unthinkable act that threatens the tenuous balance of both his and Dominick's lives. Through his grandfather's life, Dominick learns that power, wrongly used, defeats the oppressor as well as the oppressed, and now, picking through the humble shards of his deconstructed life, he will search for the courage and love to forgive, to expiate his and his ancestors' transgressions, and finally to rebuild himself beyond the haunted shadow of histwin.

    About the Author

    The author of the number one New York Times bestsellers She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, Wally Lamb still contributes time as a volunteer facilitator at the York Correctional Institution. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Christine. His third novel is The Hour I First Believed.

    What Our Readers Are Saying

    Add a comment for a chance to win!
    Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

    DeniseB, January 2, 2010 (view all comments by DeniseB)
    Such a great story that I read this 800 page book twice in the same year. I love the characters Wally Lamb creates. They stay with me. Pity the book I try to read next.
    Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
    (1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
    lveltheim, July 12, 2008 (view all comments by lveltheim)
    I have a love/hate relationship with this ambitious tome. Truth of the matter is it cheaps out for the ending. It just takes all the complex interrelationships and family history each person carries, brings the reader the hard way through generations of anger, grief, and personal struggles and then in the last part of the book does a quick summary of everyone with happy endings--money, relationships, and even infertility are all casually and easily solved. I was furious.

    Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
    (4 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
    View all 2 comments

    Product Details

    ISBN:
    9780060391621
    Author:
    Lamb, Wally
    Publisher:
    Harper
    Author:
    by Wally Lamb
    Location:
    New York :
    Subject:
    General
    Subject:
    Fiction
    Subject:
    Twins
    Subject:
    New england
    Subject:
    Sagas
    Subject:
    Family saga
    Subject:
    Fathers and sons
    Subject:
    Brothers
    Subject:
    Psychological fiction
    Subject:
    Domestic fiction
    Subject:
    New England Fiction.
    Subject:
    Twins -- New England -- Fiction.
    Subject:
    General Fiction
    Subject:
    Literature-A to Z
    Copyright:
    Edition Number:
    1st ed.
    Edition Description:
    Hardcover
    Publication Date:
    19980603
    Binding:
    Hardback
    Grade Level:
    General/trade
    Language:
    English
    Illustrations:
    Yes
    Pages:
    912
    Dimensions:
    9.52x6.48x1.78 in. 2.56 lbs.

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    Related Subjects


    Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

    I Know This Much Is True Used Hardcover
    0 stars - 0 reviews
    $5.95 In Stock
    Product details 912 pages ReganBooks - English 9780060391621 Reviews:
    "Synopsis" by ,

    A Note From the Author
    " Reading a novel is a highly personal experience and I think different readers will take different things from it. As for me, the experience of writing the book has reinforced for me the truths that Dominick had to learn: that love grows from forgiveness, that " mongrels" make good dogs, and that the roundness of life's design may be a sign that there is a presence beyond ourselves."

    Topics for Discussion
    As an award-winning teacher of writing, Wally Lamb has been honored for his exceptional ability to communicate the power and majesty of the written word to his students. Hoping to inspire thoughtful discourse on his own novel, Wally has graciously supplied these discussion questions.

  • Wally Lamb has said that what interested him most about his character, Dominick Birdsey, was the protagonist's conflictedness. Discuss some of the ways in which, as both child and adult, Dominick is pulled in opposing directions and wrestles with conflicting emotions.

    How does this novel reflect the attitudes toward and the treatment of the mentally ill as they have evolved through the 20th century?Do you see Dominick Birdsey as a hero or an anti-hero? Why?

    The author has commented that his discovery of an ancient Hindu myth, " The King and the Corpse, " allowed him to discover, in turn, Dominick's story. In this ancient tale, a cadaver whispers riddles into the ears of a naive king and the solving of these puzzles allows the king to save himself. In what ways does the plot of "I Know This Much Is True follow a similar path

    Wally Lamb has said, " Whereas Dolores Price, the main character of my first novel, "She'sCome Undone, deals with her pain and fear by imploding, Dominck tends to wrestle with pain and fear by exploding." Do females and males tend to respond differently to emotional pain? If so, why

    The principal female characters of this novel are Concettina Birdsey, Dessa Constantine, Lisa Sheffer, Dr. Rubina Patel, Ignazia Tempesta, and Prosperine Tucci (the monkey). Discuss "I Know This Much Is True"'s depiction of women.

    Wally Lamb has stated that a worthwhile novel should not only draw you into the story but also kick you in the pants so that you'll be more inclined to go out and fix the world. Do you agree or disagree?

    "I Know This Much Is True is in development as a major motion picture. If you were the casting director, which actors would you choose for the major roles?

    Discuss the themes of mirror vs. images, wholeness vs. fragmentation, connection vs. separation as they are explored in "I Know This Much Is True.

    To what extent is Dominick Birdsey's life shaped by his ethnicity? To what extent do you feel your life is defined by the place and the culture of your forebearers? Discuss. About the Author: Wally Lamb's first novel" She's Come Undone received rave reviews when it was published in 1992. The book was a finalist for the "Los Angeles Times Book Awards' Art Seidenbaum Prize for First Fiction and was named as one of the most notable books of the year by numerous publications, including "The New York Times Book Review and "People magazine. A graduate of the Vermont College MFA in Writing program, Lamb currently teaches at the University of Connecticut. He is the recipient of an NEA grant for fiction and a "Missouri Review William Peden fiction prizewinner. A nationally honored teacher of writing, he lives in Connecticut with his wife and their three sons.

  • "Synopsis" by , Dominick Birdsey's entire life has been compromised and constricted by anger and fear, by the paranoid schizophrenic twin brother he both deeply loves and resents, and by the past they shared with their adoptive father, Ray, a spit-and-polish ex-Navy man (the five-foot-six-inch sleeping giant who snoozed upstairs weekdays in the spare room and built submarines at night), and their long-suffering mother, Concettina, a timid woman with a harelip that made her shy and self-conscious. Born in the waning moments of 1949 and the opening minutes of 1950, the twins are physical mirror images who grow into separate yet connected entities: the seemingly strong and protective yet fearful Dominick, his mother's watchful "monkey"; and the seemingly weak and sweet yet noble Thomas, his mother's gentle "bunny". From childhood, Dominick fights for both separation and wholeness - and ultimately self-protection - in a house of fear dominated by Ray, a bully who abuses his power over these stepsons whose biological father is a mystery. But Dominick's talent for survival comes at an enormous cost, including the breakup of his marriage to the warm, beautiful Dessa, whom he still loves. And it will be put to the ultimate test when Thomas, a Bible-spouting zealot, commits an unthinkable act that threatens the tenuous balance of both his and Dominick's lives. Through his grandfather's life, Dominick learns that power, wrongly used, defeats the oppressor as well as the oppressed, and now, picking through the humble shards of his deconstructed life, he will search for the courage and love to forgive, to expiate his and his ancestors' transgressions, and finally to rebuild himself beyond the haunted shadow of histwin.

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