'Forever: A Novel'
By: Pete Hamill
(Hardback / 320 Pages / Little Brown & Company / ISBN: 0316341118 / $25.95)
Description: This is the magical, epic tale of Cormac O'Connor, who arrives in New York City from Ireland in 1741 and remains, well, forever. For Cormac has been given the gift of immortality, but only on the condition that he never leave the island of Manhattan. Through Cormac's eyes, we watch the city transform from a burgeoning settlement on the tip of an untamed wilderness to the romantic, gaslit world of Edith Wharton's time, and finally to the pulsing, thriving metropolis of the present day.
Verdict: Pete Hamill is a legend of New York, and 'Forever' feels very much like his magnum opus. It's a wonderfully well thought-out and well researched history of New York City as told through the eyes of one fictional character.
Cormac O'Connor, a young 18th Century Irishman, through an accident in the street and a colision with a mystical destiny finds himself travelling to make a new life in America in the 1740s. Here, he becomes embroiled in a quest for justice, power and vengeance against the man who drove him from Ireland. After an encounter with a powerful shaman, Cormac finds himself granted a power that can be the greatest blessing or the darkest curse ... immortality. the only condition is that he never leave Manhattan Island.
The following 250 years trace Cormac as he witnesses and becomes part of the development of NYC. Watching him through the slave revolt, the War of Independence, the War of 1812, the great New York fire, the nineteenth century boomtimes and the tragic events of September 11th, we see Cormac experience life's great emotions, love, loss, success and failure.
Combining a beautiful telling of Celtic mythology with a rich and vibrant civic history, Pete Hamill has created two truly remarkable characters ... one is Cormac o'Connor and the other is the City of New York.
Read 'Forever' and be glad that you did. It is certainly worth it.
Reviewed by Phil Dyerman