Forever by Pete Hamill

Forever is how long it took to read this book and Forever never again. This book started out with all the promise in the world. In the 1700’s an Irish boy vows to avenge the death of his parents by killing the Englishman who killed them. He pursues the man from Northern Ireland to New York.

On the way, he shows kindness to slaves in the hold of the ship. He saves the lives of one of them who is an African priest. The man saves him in return and grants him eternal life. He accepts on condition that once he kills the Englishman and all his offspring, that he can return to the Celtic otherworld. Until then, he cannot leave the confines of Manhattan or else he will die.

What begins as an interesting history of New York, turns into a bloated, long winded and boring list of things that happened in that city. Long lists of street names, names of bars and names of historic figures. It skips major parts of history and touches only on what the author deems significant. That may interest those New Yorkers or New York-philes but for many of us who don’t consider New York mecca, it is tedious and boring. Woody Allen does a better job of evoking the essence of the city than this book.

In the last 100 pages of this 600 page slog, Cormac finally gets the opportunity to kill the last Warren and return to the Otherworld. Instead, he forgoes the killing and the whole end of the book involves the events of 9/11, Cormac finding the Dominican woman he loves and then deciding to live eternally with her in New York. After 9/11, I would have run toward that Emerald light as fast as my legs would carry me and get the hell out of New York, America and this book.

This is yet another book that reminds me that New York and its denizens are largely self-involved. More so than your average self-involved American. Straight to the trade-in pile for this one. No regrets.

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