Favorite Author, But Not This Book. Awarded three stars on Goodreads.
I am a big fan of Wally Lamb, but not of this book. Mostly because I think the book would have worked better as a series of discrete stories. Instead, I feel like Lamb is trying to weave together too many different stories, some in different styles.
What you get is an aging film professor, getting ready to teach a class at a theater when the ghosts of dead Hollywood personalities suddenly appear to guide him back to his youth, supposedly so he can come to terms with some unresolved issues. The Hollywood folks do this by having the professor watch movie scenes from his childhood. Most are connected with his sister’s eating disorder. Sprinkled with a lot of cultural reminiscing for people like me, Baby Boomers who are Lamb’s contemporaries.
There’s also the professor’s grown daughter, an up and coming writer, who gets an obscure assignment to produce an article about a decades-old marketing campaign for beer. And finally, there’s the story of an unwanted pregnancy, also connected to the professor. No spoilers though.
Lamb tries to tie these things together but to me, it just didn’t work. And I ended up feeling dissatisfied with all four story lines (professor, his sister, his daughter, the pregnancy.) I finished the book feeling that Lamb tried to write a novel, full of childhood memories, that didn’t have much of a point. Maybe you’ll find more meaning than I did.