I Know This Much is True
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Product Description

Dominick Birdsey's whole existence is coloured by the fact that his twin brother can never be fully responsible for his frightening behaviour, while he himself has beaten the biochemical odds to remain sane. But at what cost?

Oprah Book Club? Selection, June 1998: What if you were a 40-year-old housepainter, horrifically abused, emotionally unavailable, and your identical twin was a paranoid schizophrenic who believed in public self-mutilation? You'd either be a guest on the Jerry Springer Show or Dominick Birdsey, the antihero, narrator, and bad-juju magnet of I Know This Much Is True. Somewhere in the recesses of this hefty 912-page tome lurks an honest, moving account of one man's search, denial, and acceptance of self. This is no easy feat considering his grandfather seemed to take parenting tips from the SS and his grandmother was a possible teenage murderess, his stepfather a latent sadist, and his brother, Thomas, a politically motivated psychopath. Not one to break with tradition, Dominick continues the dysfunctional legacy with rape, a failed marriage, a nervous breakdown, SIDS, a car crash, and a racist conspiracy against a coworker--just to name a few.

A stretch, both literally and figuratively from his Oprah-christened bestseller, She's Come Undone, Lamb's book ventures outside the confines of the tightly bound beach read and marathons through a detailed, neatly cataloged account of every familial travesty and personal failure one can endure. At its heart lies Freud's "return of the repressed": the more we try to deny who we are, the more we become what we fear. Lamb takes Freud's psychological abstraction to the realm of everyday living, packing his novel with tender, believable dialogue and thoughtful observation. --Rebekah Warren

Customer Reviews:

  • Bound to be a classic
    At nearly 900 pages, I Know This Much is True is worth every turn. I have read this book 6 times now, and am looking to purchase the book because I lent mine out, don't know who has it and it is time to revisit this characters. The complexity of this book can seem daunting to some, but get through it. The reason I've read it so many times is because of the complexity involved in both plot and characterization. The first time I read it I wasn't really interested in the grandfather's memoirs, the next time I read it the memoirs added so much to Dominic's character, and with each read I find something else that fasinates me about one of the many characters involved.
    I do love to read, but don't have a lot of time to read. If you are taking a vacation, or looking for something to completely consume some time, grab this book. It is rare to find a modern American author who can give characters such depth, texture and flaws and still make you fall in love with each and every one of them.
    I put this with East of Eden as a favorite....more info
  • Ever Heard of Editors?
    I think it was Truman Capote who, talking about a book he didn't much like said, "That's not writing; it's typing." Ah, yes, and here we have a perfect example. A story that could have been told, easily, in 300 pages, written by someone who has no discipline whatsoever, takes nearly 900. Example: Dominick tells the social worker he hates his brother, he tells his brother he hates his brother, he tells his mother he hates his brother, he tells Leo he hates his brother, he tells the work crew foreman he hates his brother, he tells his college roommate he hates his brother, he tells the doctor he hates his brother, and lastly he tells the reader he hates his brother. This revelation must consume at least 150 pages in its various forms. We get it: HE HATES HIS BROTHER -- now for God's sakes, move on! And this is just one example. Here's another, chosen completely at random: the police station questioning of Dominick, the content of which could might have told in a few paragraphs, goes on for page after page after page after page. It's just plain bad writing, characteristic of someone who simply types whatever comes into his head on the assumption that whatever comes into his head is worth his typing and our reading. It isn't. Compare this book with Indignation by Philip Roth, ten times the story, 90% fewer words, the difference between a writer and a hack....more info
  • Longest book I ever read But worth it
    I love this book, at first I wasn't going to try it because of the length but whenever i got a chance to read weather it be 20 pages or a hundred it was totally worth it...more info
  • 900 Pages of Pure, Real Writing
    This book is everything you expect it to be, and all the things you don't expect it to be. It is real - sometimes too real, and yet, it still has a mini fantasy novella inside of the real story. Complex. It draws you in and makes you want to keep reading, while at the same time making you want to stop reading so you do not have feel the next blow, or the next disappointment the characters lives through....more info
  • It will stay with you
    I almost didn't finish this book. I hated Dominick, the main character. He was self-centered, cruel, angry...I really could not understand how he had any friends, much less a live-in girlfriend and an ex-wife who still cared about him. It seemed that any woman with a shred of common sense would stay as far away from him as possible.

    But the book is about more than Dominick. It is about the importance of family and the role that each member plays. It is about Dominick's struggle for redemption, and in reading about his struggle one realizes that his friends, family members, and the women in his life are all flawed and struggling too. The characters are so real and well defined, the scenes are so well written, that I could see the sterile walls of the institution where his brother was taken. I could see Dr. Patel in her sari as she tried to help Dominick come to terms with the person that he was and the person that he could be.

    It is a good story. One that should not be missed....more info
  • The best fiction I have read in a long time
    Wow. Even if you have not gone through the exact stuff the characters go through, you will be able to relate their exeperiences to your own life. A good read, even at close to 1,000 pages. It has everything you look for in a novel: incredible characters, good writing, great plot, and lots of emotion....more info
  • I know this much is true by Wally Lamb
    I had already read this book but had to have it for my own to share with friends. It is a page turner for sure. The first chapter will shock. It takes you for quite a ride. If you have ever felt responsible for someone who is out of control you will truly relate to the main character. I highly recommend for anyone who needs a strong catch to keep them interested. ...more info
  • Hats off to Wally Lamb on this one!
    This was an incredible reading experience. Every character was superbly explored. The writing style was intense. The story was well woven in a way that each character you get to know so well has an integral part to the story in so many ways. At a lengthy 800+ pages, it was impossible to put down. Wally Lamb has a true gift of developing characters that you feel like you know and can sympathize with. The only downside to his writing is that at times it is too explicit. Sort of like an R-rated movie that some people cannot stomach. I realize that that is his style and it is something I was able to overcome and truly enjoy this amazing work.

    This will go down as one of my favorite books of all time so far. When I finished the book, I closed it and just said "WOW!". It was that good of a read. It was almost depressing in a way to have finished the story and then have no more pages to read.

    All in all, if you enjoy a novel that is well written, with a great weaving story line, and incredible characters, then this is the book for you. DEFINITELY RECOMMENDED READING!!!!!!!!!!!...more info
  • Must Read!!!
    I read an average of about a book a week & this may be the best book I've read. The story feels real. The characters are flawed in a way that makes you feel more connected to them. The narrator of the story pulls you into his life of having a paranoid schizophrenic brother so well that you hurt with him & his family. It is well written, long but easy to read, funny, touching & tragic. I loved it....more info
  • Its 2am...
    i just stayed up way past my bedtime on a school night to finish this book (i'm 31 by the way). it is a long book, but that's good because i didn't really want it to end anyway. this book makes you feel. it seemed like i was really in the middle of these people's lives, great storytelling. this is a 900-page page-turner. almost every page is dog eared bc i would sneak a read anytime i could, even if i could just fit a page or two in....more info
  • I Know This Much is True
    I enjoyed this book. It is the February choice for our book club. We are meeting to discuss it this morning. It is nice to read something once in awhile where the character goes through so much but comes out happy and fulfilled in the end....more info
  • 900 pages never went so quick
    I read this book in four days just simply could not bear to drop it out of my hands.

    I was recommended this book by a group of fellow English teachers many of which proclaimed it to be the best book they have ever read. While I am hesitant to herald it to that superstar status, there is no denying that this is an exquisite novel.

    To sum it up without ruining it, the novel is based on the lives of 2 identical twins one who is a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. Through this intricate story we are taken through their past and present that reveals how twins who are identical are also divided. One brother is struggling to make sense of his life through his disease and the other is desperately trying to save his twin and unburden the guilt he feels for being the "normal" one.

    What I love about this book is how human these characters are. Although the twins are the center of the novel, we are captivated and repelled by the array of characters such as the hair lipped soft spoken mother, the overbearing and violent stepfather Ray, the affectionate sheltered wife Dessa, Ralphie Drinkwater the abused classmate and the twins grandfather who speaks beyond the grave in his autobiography. Lamb makes us feel a complicated twist of compassion and disgust for almost every one of these characters. None is a pure saint or a pure sinner.

    I could have loved this book even more if the ending didn't seem like such a clique. I think it is evident that Lamb himself was just too much in love with his own characters to make them suffer any more at the end, and he tries to wrap everything up in a neat little bow rather than let it end more naturally. Other than that flaw the novel really is heartbreakingly beautiful, extremely well researched (on both the nature of twins and mental illness) and memorable.
    ...more info
  • Agree: Less is more !
    How unfortunate that most of the writers are too bad to tell a story! If half of our writers can write magnificent tales like the Love Story by Erich Segal, millions of people would save billions of hours and billions of cubic meters of trees. Think about it: if a writer cannot tell a good story within 100 pages, then he is NOT a good writer. Why should we know every piece of junk of detail that associate with characters that we don't even care. Most of the writers of our time have a terrible ability on writing dialog. So, instead, they give you all the junk like character description, narrative, the whole lot.

    To tell a story mostly through dialog is the most efficient way to tell a story. And readers would most easily trust your characters. And nobody is better than Erich Segal. When you have a put in so much narrative, interior monologue, and stuff, it only means that you are unable to tell a story that people believe and you have to improve your story. I hate most of the dialogs in most of the novels I have read. When I see a novel with 600 plus pages, I am not going to touch it at all. Dont' want to be disappointed after having invested so much time - life.

    Novel should be like art, should able to enlighten and entertain, and tell decent stories with the simplest old fashioned way. Don't put all the junk in the world to make do with literature. Then you are cheating.

    ...more info
  • deserves 10 stars!
    VERRRRY GOOD book. It's LONG - 900+ pages and you still won't want it to end. GREAT!!!!...more info
  • This book doesn't end, it continues
    This book is too complex with characters, plots and generations to even begin to summarize. I don't feel like writing a book report. There are many reviews for this book that take on that roll, so I will skip that part. What I liked most about this book is that there is no end, but instead a continuation of the journey that Dominick (the narrorator) struggled with throughout the book. Nothing "happened" for him, no one bailed him out or saved the day for him - he had to make good things happen for himself. Engaging and trusting with others to get and accept that help was the primary struggle for him. The insight into domestic abuse (physical and emotional) that Lamb exercises in the characters in the book will help readers to understand why some of the characters are self-destructive and some of the others are so selfless and open. The ending is, I think, what every reader will hope for - but it did not come easy. The book made me wonder if I could do that much for myself, if I have the strength to examine my life, my past and my family the way that Domick does. As soon as Dominick realizes that not everyone/everything is about him things start to open up and change. And because the jounrey was so long and patterns recognized, at the end of the book I had confidence that Dominick had made long-term changes that would hold. That's why I feel the book didn't end, but rather continued....more info
  • Transcendant Wisdom, Powerful Artistry, Multi-Layered Voices and Characterizations
    Transcendant themes are interwoven into this masterwork by someone who will be remembered as one of, if not the greatest early 21st Century writers: I loved how Lamb tackles, head-on, the insanity in our society, the themes of grace, providence, and biology, how he meticulously critiques ultra-masculinity and its degradation of the feminine through violence and abuse, and how he gives voice, flawlessly, to so many people of different class, socioeconomic status, gender, race, and mental stability.

    He doesn't stop there. He goes on, travels beyond himself: Lamb's writing interweaves massive commentaries on Native American abuse and healing, the psychological effects of being a twin, bisexuality and lesbianism into the already grand structure of this novel. And, as with She's Come Undone, it is never trite or homophobic, never hackneyed or stereotypical.

    Reading something that reminds you of the importance of forgiveness, of finding your own way home to family, of self-acceptance, of self-knowledge, and of inner strength is always worth reading. Lamb's novels advocate being more assertive in life- not through violence and manipulation, but through much prayer- however you define that term, inner-working, love, and forgiveness.

    Grade A. Don't miss it....more info
  • I Recuse Myself From This Book
    Why is it that in order to sell books, authors these days have to debase themselves by hawking their tomes on Oprah?

    By definition, that means the book is written for sub-literate soccer moms and other assorted half-wits.

    Even if this were a great book (it just may well be), I have only so much money in my budget for buying books.

    Therefore, I will have to take a pass.

    Authors: Think about the company you keep! Not all of us admire the bovine goddess of daytime TV....more info
  • Page turner till the end!
    I really enjoyed this book. Wally lamb is such an engaging writer that once you start reading you don't want to put the book down. I read his other book, "She's come undone" too and it is excellent! I can't wait for him to come out with a new book!...more info
  • All Time Favorite
    The first time I read this book I was totally absorbed in the characters and the prose. The second time I read this book I fell in love all over again. And yes, I have even read it a third time. I am an avid reader, never without a book, and read anywhere from 3 to 5 books a month. But this book, this amazing, wonderful book, will always be my favorite. What I just can't believe is Wally Lamb has a new book coming out in November. Thank you, thank you, thank you...I just can't wait!...more info
  • I miss reading this book :(
    I walked around my house with my nose in this book for practically a week. It's SO LONG - and that's a good thing. When I finally turned that last page, I felt empty. What do I do with all this free time now???

    The story itself is a combination of flashbacks, a bit of mythology, and it's just so... human. Dominick Birdsey did get a little tiresome at times with his brashness, but I can't imagine any other narrator. And with intermittent "chapters" of his grandfather's history, there was never a moment where I felt tired or bored of the book at all. Overall, a beautiful, wonderful book I'll be reading again and again....more info
  • It was long, but actually it should have been longer!!
    Well the book came in at just over 850 pages, but to really "finish" the story, Wally could have "fleshed" out the last decade in the book a little more fully. It seems that when his deadline approached, Wally, said, heck its already over 850 pages, print it!! Great book otherwise, it offers, great insights into how early childhood experiences really affect our lives in fundamental ways. Good Job Wally. ...more info
  • 900 Pages of Woe is Me & It's Not My Fault
    I really disliked this book and quite frankly, was bored by it overall. This was a book club pick and after about 1/3 of the way through it, I read through to the end purely in devotion to the person who had selected it for that months reading...

    In direct opposition to the book--I'll keep my review short and sweet...

    The lead male is whiny, and a typical excuse maker and blamer. His entire life is a mess because of someone else, or because he couldn't take ownership--never because of his self-centeredness or poor choices. Nothing is ever his fault. It was all I could do to get through the book. Typical not-my-fault schlock.
    B O R I N G . . ....more info
  • I own several copies....
    Why do I own several copies?- because this book is THAT good- inspiring, memorable, and one of the few novels I have RE-read; I like to keep extra copies around on my bookshelf to give and recommend to friends.

    You fall both intriqued and in love with Lamb's fictional characters early on in the book. This page turner scares many away with it's length but please don't let that deter you-

    A tale of two brothers: one "normal" brother who struggles with divorce, the loss of a child, and taking care of his schizoprenic twin brother (who only further intices the reader to become part of these men's lives). Taking place in Southeastern, CT and placed on Oparh's book club soon after release- this is one book you are going to want to pick up- or maybe even several copies... ...more info
  • Long and good
    It was a very long read, however it was worth it. A good book two thumbs up...more info
  • The best book I have ever read !!
    I loved this book. It actually has two stories going on in the same book.
    The best, best, best book !! Don't hestitate for a minute to buy it and read it. It will stay with you long after your done reading it....more info