600 Hours of Edward – Craig Lancaster

600 Hours of Edward
Paperback, 334 pages
Expected publication: August 14th 2012 by Amazon Encore
 
Source – Amazon Vine
My Rating – 5 stars
I was initially attracted to this novel as Edward, the narrator, has Aspergers (like my son). Maybe I’m a sucker for punishment but I like to know how ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) is presented in fiction – sometimes authors hit the nail on the head e.g. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time which was equally enjoyed by my son and I, whilst others really miss the mark and one can’t help suspecting they’re using it in an effort to make their novel quirky, to give it a twist. Edward passed our stringent authenticity test and I think he will endear himself to many, many readers.

Aspergers does not define Edward but it’s part of who he is and it explains his love of facts and avoidance of ambiguity. Yes, he can be blunt, lacking diplomacy but it’s his OCD which dominates his life. He lives apart from his family and communicates with his father through a solicitor – he’d love to have a better relationship with his father but it takes two to tango. His days are structured around various “data collection” – recording his waking time, the daily weather statistics, compelled to watch old videos of the 50s/60s US police drama, Dragnet, at 10.00pm each evening without fail. He has a vast collection of letters of complaint, letters which he composes to various individuals who have slighted/offended him in some way but which remain unsent, on the advice of his therapist!

However, life is about to change for Edward who, at 39, has led a reclusive existence with very little human contact. His first experience of internet dating is an education. A new neighbour brings new opportunities for interaction. It’s not an easy transition but Edward starts to emerge from his cocoon and stamp his personality on the world.

600 Hours of Edward is an excellent debut novel with a narrator whose personality will immediately engage the reader. It made me laugh out loud at times and even sniffle a little but ultimately it left me feeling positive and optimistic.  I felt I got to know Edward and his hometown, Billings, Montana which exists in real life, including Edward’s local convenience store, Albertsons and his actual street!  If you enjoyed Heft by Liz Moore I think you will be equally enthralled by 600 Hours of Edward.

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9 Comments

  1. As you know I’m drawn to books about Aspergers too. Comparing it to Heft just seals the deal! It has gone straight onto the *must buy* list. Thanks for drawing it to my attention.

  2. admin says:

    I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, Jackie. Like Arthur in Heft, Edward is growing in self-esteem and stepping into a new life with all its challenges. Now I’m writing about them as if I know them personally!

  3. Thank you so much for this lovely review of “600 Hours of Edward.” It made my day.

    And, yes, indeed, Edward’s street and town are all too real (I live about six blocks from his house — or where his house would be if it, or he, existed).

    Cheers!

  4. Charlie says:

    It’s totally natural for you to be drawn to books with Aspergers in them, it makes sense that you’d want to see how it gets written. If you had said this book wasn’t good, I’d have taken your word for it, but given your seal of approval I’m definitely interested. I like that mental and physical issues are becoming popular in fiction, even if it’s just to provide a sure winner.

  5. admin says:

    Thank you for your comments, Craig. Looking forward to reading more by you!

    Charlie, if it’s well written and sensitively approached, then this type of novel can raise awareness and (in a perfect world!) increase acceptance of others’ differences. I loved the fact that Edward is not a cliched, Rain Man type character – he’s probably more normal than most of us in that he doesn’t insist on playing the socialising game! ;-)

  6. admin says:

    There’s a sequel! :-) I just had to share that!!

  7. Marie says:

    This sounds good and I agree that there does seem to be an increasing number of books cropping up where the author seems to have used ASD as some sort of convenient narrative device. This sounds like one of the good ones though!

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