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.
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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.
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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.
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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