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. If you enjoyed Heft by Liz Moore I think you will be equally enthralled by 600 Hours of Edward.
on 11 December 2014
Review of '600 Hours of Edward' by Craig Lancaster
My own personal top three books of all time has been pretty stagnant for many years. Now one has to make way for this absolute masterpiece. My guess is that anyone who has read this has already given it a glowing review and there is probably little I can add.
However, it is an exquisite piece of work. Twenty-five days in the life of Edward, an Asperger's Syndrome sufferer...twenty-five days in which he experiences several new 'intrusions' into his orderly life. Twenty-five beautiful chapters, almost identical in length. Twenty-five episodes of Dragnet (each, of course one of his favourites).
And finally of course, six hundred divine minutes that you will devour in one sitting and never want to end...
Edward is approaching forty, he is single and lives alone in Billings, Montana, he has Asperger's syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder. He likes routine and order, he likes facts and not suppositions. He leads a life regulated by his needs for a schedule, by his weekly visits to Dr Buckley and his nightly 10.00pm viewing of a recording of a Dragnet episode, strictly in the correct order. The appearance of Kyle, a nine year old boy who has moved in across the street starts in motion a series of events that could lead to a dramatic change on Edwards life.
Edward would like two things, a girlfriend and the approval of his father. He tries his own way to solve the former, the latter seems out of his hands. His father, a County Commissioner, communicates with Edward by letter through his attorney; he has only a few memories of happy times with his father. As the opportunities for friendship open up, Edward finds that such things are not plain sailing, but he is making progress.
Covering 600 hours, or twenty five days, this is an engaging and touching novel, well and correctly written (just as well, for Edward is a stickler for correct grammar!), one is quickly drawn into Edwards life and routine, and soon hoping that he will break away from the regulating factors in his life achieve his goals. Recommended.
When we first meet 39 year old Edward Stanton he is leading a very well ordered existence, with minimal human interaction. His style of life is strongly influenced by his Asperger's Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. As a result what he trusts most are facts and data, and he has a very repetitive existence with numerous rather idiosyncratic rituals. These include visits to the supermarket where he buys the same items at the same time each week, recording his wake up time each day (7.38 being by far the most usual time), and watching an episode from Dragnet, at exactly 10pm each evening, but only the colour episodes made between 1967 and 1970 about which he has almost encyclopaedic knowledge having watched them so often.
However, all this changes when a young neighbour, Kyle, approaches and speaks to him. From then on Edward can choose to risk the uncertainty of dealing with other people, with the rewards or heartaches that this may entail, or reject this new avenue and stick to his routines. However it is clear that he feels that he is missing out on something as he has recently been visiting internet dating sites. None of Edward's issues with dealing with people have been helped by the odd, standoff relationship he has with his parents, in particular his father, who he meets with once a month and who regularly communicates with Edward via his lawyers.
This is a fascinating book, heart warming at times, quite funny at others but also very sad in places. It is certainly outside of my usual comfort zone of reading matter. However, one of the pleasures of the Amazon Vine programme is that you are sometimes jolted out of your usual pattern, much like Edward was in this story really, and discover a really worthwhile book which is how I would categorise 600 Hours. Incidentally the title is an allusion to Edward's preference for accurate details and exactitude.
Through lack of knowledge , I started with Edward Adrift ( see my 5 star review ) which is the second "Edward" book. It reads well as a stand alone novel, but having now read "600 Hours" a lot of the pieces have fallen into place so if new to Edward I suggest that you start at the beginning with this one.
Craig Lancaster writes of this Aspergers sufferer with a gentle kindness putting the reader into. Edward's shoes and seeing life through Edward's eyes as he copes with functioning with his neighbour Dawn her son Kyle, his parents, his therapist and everyone else he comes into contact with.
This physical giant of a man has a naive almost childlike, literal attitude to life, but there is an underlying high intelligence . His attempt at Internet dating borders on hilarity, but in a nice way. His relationship with his wealthy, high powered father is a definition of sadness.
This is a fine interesting, humorous story which must also help the cause of Aspergers or any other mental illness sufferer. Beneath their outward difficulties they are people like you and I with feelings, ambitions and desire to be part of society.
I would have given 5 stars, but for the explanation of each Dragnet episode. I realise that Edward's addiction to this show is germane to the story, but I think that the detailed retelling of each storyline was unnecessary.
This is however a small criticism of a superpower piece of writing.
This is the story of Edward Stanton who is a middle aged adult who happens to have obsessive compulsive disorder and Asperger's Syndrome. As a result he likes facts and predictable routines so despite being clever and funny he has difficulty communicating with people and this has held him back. He relieves some of his frustration by writing letters of complaint but one of these to the well known Country and Western singer Garth Brookes escalates to the point where he faced legal action. As a result his father decides he needs to move out and sets him up in his own place. Through these changes he enters into Internet dating and befriends his neighbor and her son. The book guides us through 600 hours of his life at this turning point in Edward's life. This is a funny and sometimes moving read and is an interesting character driven novel. The author shows an excellent understanding of Asberger's and OCD and how they are interpreted by the character and those around him. I started this book with little expectation but read it very quickly which is always a good sign.
Edward Stanton is 38, has OCD and Asberger's syndrome and he copes with his life by having order and routine. Until, over the 600 hours in the title, his life changes in many ways, not least of which he makes friends with the lady across the street and her son.
This is a charming read, and I found Edward to be an excellent narrator of his story. I thought his conditions were portrayed very well and, with a touch of OCD myself, I could understand and empathise with his character. It was nice to see, throughout the course of the story, how Edward blossomed and developed and was able to make friends, probably for the first time in his life.
A very good read, and a quick and easy one too.
on 24 August 2012
600 Hours of Edward is the touching story of 600 hours (or 25 days) in the life of Edward Stanton. The title isn't a co-incidence; Edward likes to count. he likes order, predictability and routine. Edward eats the same thing for breakfast (cornflakes) and dinner (spaghetti), every day. He paints his garage once a year. This nearly-numbing level of structure serves an important purpose in Edward's life. You see Edward is autistic and has OCD, and his rituals and routines, (along with daily medication and weekly visits to a therapist) help him survive the modern world.
When we first meet Edward at the beginning of the novel, we see that these routines have paved the way to a life style that is trouble free and managed, yet dull and isolated. He has no friends and is has a distant relationship with his parents. However, during the titular 600 hours Edward begins interacting with his new neighbors, a single mother and her young son, and slowly, Edward starts to connect with other people. Not everything goes well, but over the course of the 600 hours, we see a transformation in Edward. His relationship with the mother & son shows signs of developing into a meaningful friendship, and all the while, Edward slowly, on his own terms, starts to particpate in a society in which he was merely a spectator.
The story is well written and well paced, but with just the right amount of emotion it's hard not to cheer for Edward and the remarkable 600-hour journey which he makes.
on 31 January 2016
As per usual, I’m sat here contemplating my review. I’m agog at how fortuitous it is that I came to read this book. I’m considering whether any of the characters were flamboyant, austere, tenacious, ostentatious, apoplectic, or exceptional. Through this book, I have discovered that I love the words rambunctiousness, discombobulated, and onomatopoeia, notwithstanding the fact that I struggle to spell the latter, however, that’s no great shakes. I find myself flabbergasted by how much I’m rocking this book, and the thought of not loving it would be truly preposterous.
I’m rather confident that Edward, the main character in this book, would like the paragraph above.
Edward has Asperger’s Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and has to be one of my all-time favourite book characters, which is rather impressive, considering how many books I’ve actually read. This story is endearing, touching, emotional, sad and funny throughout.
Edward states “I don’t like to assume. I prefer facts.” I think he would love to meet my Grandma, as she taught me from a very young age that to assume makes and ass out of u and me.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes character led stories, as Edward is such a wonderful and entertaining character. I miss him already, and can’t wait to read Edward Adrift.
on 10 December 2014
I should have known that I would cry at the end of this novel - I'd already shed a few tears at several other points throughout the narrative. Edward is the Asperger's Peter Pan you can't help but love. And even at the points when the author's descriptions of him and the quirky workings of his mind made me laugh out loud, there was still a lump in my throat. I love the way Craig Lancaster took us along on Edward's journey through to a happier, more integrated self. As a therapist I have met a few Edwards, and vouch for the veracity of those descriptions. By the time I got to the end of the novel I had grown so fond of Edward I knew I would never forget him. A tour de force by this author and well deserving of the 5 stars. I'll be reading more of his books and thoroughly recommend this one.