Craig Lancaster's 600 Hours of Edward is an endearing peek inside the mind of a man struggling with obsessive compulsions and Asperger's Syndrome. The first person point of view works well for this book as it allows the narrative to be seen from Edward's viewpoint, while the interventions of his therapist and the interactions with others allows the author to explore where Edward's perspective may not be entirely trustworthy. That narration is often repetitive, which is annoying to begin with, but then you realise that this is bringing you into the mindset of the repetitive regime that gives Edward comfort as he deals with a difficult mental health condition. The story is a slowly progressing one, which again is reflective of Edward's desire to maintain a safe and steady existence and appropriately paced for a piece of mental health fiction.
The novel is set in the author's home city of Billings, Montana, but given a wider appeal through numerous popular cultural references, such as the TV show Dragnet, the Dallas Cowboys American football team, and something known ominously as the Garth Brooks Incident. The Brooks incident is never fully explained, but was the source of the strained relationship between Edward and his parents. The other main interaction occurs with a new neighbour and her nine year old son, which challenges Edward to consider whether to open up to other people and breach the safe cocoon that he has created for himself.
600 Hours of Edward is a worthy read and a cleverly structured exploration of the experience of living with obsessive and volatile behaviour.
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