Whoa, whoa, and WHOA.
There are books and then there are books, and from the first time I cracked open a Wally Lamb (She’s Come Undone), I knew he was a special kind of writer — how many male writers can perfectly capture the voice of an adolescent girl?. As soon as his next novel came out, a 900 plus page tour de force, I dove in and came out the other side full of utter admiration and love. I Know This Much Is True is quite simply, one of the best books I’ve ever read. The complex story of the twin brothers Birdsey, Dominick, and Thomas — who is schizophrenic — is heartening, and devastating at the same time; completely immersive … and just as one becomes entirely wrapped up in their lives, Lamb abruptly steps in with an alternate timeline — a history of their grandfather. I remember reaching that moment and being so upset to be pulled out of the brothers’ story, only to find myself just as rapt over a whole other storyline. Seamlessly flipping from one world to another — a la another such favorite, King and Straub’s The Talisman — Lamb weaves intricate pairs of interwoven family histories so all-encompassing, it’s hard to pull back to real life.
As announced by HBO today, apparent king of duality Mark Ruffalo will head up the eight-part limited series adaptation of this masterpiece, starring as both brothers; he’ll also executive produce, along with the author (Lamb and Ruffalo have reportedly been collaborating two years to bring the story to television). Adding to the appeal, Derek Cianfrance (A Place Beyond the Pines, Blue Valentine) is writing and directing all episodes.
If you’ve not yet read I Know This Much Is True (and She’s Come Undone), do yourself a favor and do it now.