Kristen's Reviews > Forever

Forever by Pete Hamill
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's review
Dec 21, 2007

it was ok
Read in April, 2008

The idea of a first-person account of the whole history of Manhattan was really intriguing to me, so I was really excited to read this book, and assumed that the whole "you're immortal but you can't leave Manhattan" thing was just a weird plot device in order to make this first-person narrative make sense. Instead, the opposite seemed to be true: the history of Manhattan seemed to be just a setting for the whole strange spiritual-mythological side of the story.

That said, I loved the first 1/3 of the book, set in Ireland in the hero's 18th century childhood. The next portion, set in downtown Manhattan, also had a great point of view and was well-paced. Then there's this weird bit about Boss Tweed dying in jail that I didn't get. The whole last 1/3 of the book is set in 2000-2001 -- amidst flashbacks to the 20's and 30's that seemed like an afterthought -- and follows the hero finding and falling in love with his "true love" or whatever. This part was so bland, so drawn-out and detached, I plodded my way through it and found myself skipping paragraphs, then pages. Good lord. The book culminates with the World Trade Center attacks, the descriptions of which could have been written by any writing major at NYU (I'll throw him a few bones for the description of the dust cloud; that was okay). And the ending? Man, C'MON!!

I know that Pete Hamill is known for his love of the history of New York, and I'd say that that's obvious in a good portion of this (rather large) book. I just wanted way more history and way less pseudo-romance and pseudo-spirituality/voodoo than this book delivered.
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