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600 Hours of Edward Portrays a Thirty-Something Man’s Coming of Age

June 5, 2010

600 Hours of Edward by Craig Lancaster
published by Riverbend Publishing, October 23, 2009

Thirty-nine-year old Edward Stanton has obsessive compulsive disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome. His illness — the OCD — is treated with medication and therapy, and the Asperger’s is just part of who he is: a bright, funny, methodical man who likes concrete facts and predictable routines.Β  Edward has many abilities, but his rigidity and difficulty communicating with others have kept him from holding down a job. He is supported by his father, a wealthy developer and county commissioner.

Edward is often baffled by other people’s behavior, and he vents his frustration by writing letters of complaint. After his complaints to a popular Country-Western singer escalated to the point where he faced legal action, an event later known as “The Garth Brooks Incident,” his father decided Edward needed to move out. He now lives in a house his parents purchased and structures his life around careful routines. Edward is sliding into middle age; like T.S. Eliot’s J. Edgar Prufrock, he measures out his life in coffee spoons, focusing on quotidian household tasks, errands, visits to his therapist, and his favorite television program, Dragnet.

However, changes are coming. Through his tentative forays into internet dating, his budding friendship with a neighbor — a single mom recovering from an abusive relationship — and her 9-year-old son, and a crisis that strikes his family, Edward finds his life changed in ways he’d never expected.

This is not a fast-paced edge-of-your seat kind of story. We’re guided through 600 hours of Edward’s life, an existence that is defined, in many ways, by repetitive routines. However it is a wonderful character study with several interesting twists. As an Aspergian with OCD, Edward dislikes ambiguity. He has spent his life avoiding shades of gray; as he often tells you, he prefers facts. However he is facing incredibly ambiguous, emotionally laden questions — the kinds of things that often overwhelm “neurotypicals.” For example, how do you forgive, and fully love, a parent who has been unkind and has shut you out of his life? What should you do when what you’re supposed to do conflicts with what you believe is right? What are the “rules” and boundaries of friendship? And, for God’s sake, when you’re on a date, how do you figure out what a woman wants? All of this leads to a turning point in Edward’s life — a coming of age. And yes, I believe “coming of age” can happen at any stage of life.

This is a sweet, funny and occasionally heartbreaking debut novel that will appeal to fiction lovers who enjoy character-driven stories. I look forward to seeing what Craig Lancaster creates in the future.

Hat Tip to the FTC: I received a copy of this book, from the publisher, for review. Many thanks to Chris Cauble at Riverbend Publishing for this opportunity.

Read more reviews:Β  Life With Asperger’s, That Chick That Reads, Coffee Books and Laundry; hear from the author at For the Sake of Joy

Rating:

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2010 12:14 am

    This looks fascinating. I love books with characters that are truly unique and thus, mesmerizing.

  2. June 6, 2010 1:12 am

    Glad you liked this! I was looking forward to your review. Now I’ll go off and add it.

    • June 6, 2010 12:41 pm

      Thanks, Aths! When you read 600 Hours of Edward, I hope you enjoy it. I look forward to hearing what you think.

  3. June 6, 2010 3:48 am

    Wonderful to get more of the flesh and flow of Edward’s tale.

    I especially enjoyed reading about the “Garth Brooks Incident”.

    • June 6, 2010 12:42 pm

      Thanks, Adelaide, The “Garth Brooks Incident” was one of my favorite parts. It made me cringe and laugh out loud at the same time. πŸ™‚

  4. June 6, 2010 10:36 am

    “And yes, I believe β€œcoming of age” can happen at any stage of life.”

    As do I! And I love to see a book that acknowledges that.

    • June 6, 2010 12:46 pm

      Thanks, Nymeth — I agree. While I do enjoy teen coming of age stories, for many of us, adolescence left us with more unfinished business than anything else. πŸ™‚ And of course because of his neurological differences, Edward matured more slowly than one might typically expect. I wish more books acknowledged that “coming of age” arrives at various points in the life cycle. Especially since I’m 43, last time I counted, and I’m still “growing up” in some ways. πŸ˜‰

  5. June 6, 2010 1:33 pm

    It was lovely to wake up this morning and find this review in my news feed. Thank you for taking the time to read “600 Hours of Edward” and to offer such a well-considered review of it. I’m really happy that you enjoyed it.

  6. June 6, 2010 4:30 pm

    A coming of age novel for adults is refreshing in this market. Edward’s story sounds like a touching one. And how cool is it that the author popped in!

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