and his home in Manseld. Yet Lamb has set many of hisacclaimed books - including this newest story – in a placecalled ree Rivers.“Its pretty much Norwich,” Lamb, 62, says about thectional town of ree Rivers.
We Are Water
is, in part, about the March 6, 1963 oodin Norwich and the devastation it causes one young family (It is also about a famous artist from Norwich and includesa character based on former Slater Memorial MuseumDirector Joe Gualtieri, but more about that later.) Lamb’s publishing house, HarperCollins, is set to release the book, which is the author’s h, in 2013.“is [book] is probably more personal than some of my earlier stu,” Lamb said.
Lamb’s rst book,
She’s Come Undone
, was published in1992. at year, Oprah Winfrey called Lamb to tell himshe enjoyed the book. In 1997, Oprah selected it for her wildly popular book club.“A lot of people didn’t read it until 1997,” Lamb said. Atthe time Oprah picked his book, he was an English teacherat his alma mater, Norwich Free Academy. He was own toa “dinner party” where readers discussed his book, and laterappeared on the show.“I just remember at the dinner party it was, like, the bestfood I’d ever tasted,” recalled Lamb with a laugh.A year later, he got to do it again when Oprah pickedhis second novel,
I Know is Much is True
, for the OprahBook Club. Both books reached number one on the
Best Seller list. While he admits, “It was all such a rollercoaster ride andthat makes it challenging aer a while,” Lamb has stayedgrounded. He’s quick with a smile or a story. He wearsT-shirts with the “Benny’s” store logo on them, favorsballcaps and prefers to keep an oce on the second oor of a two-family home in Willimantic as opposed to in Bostonor New York City.“I don’t have a desire to get a second home or move toMalibu,” said Lamb. “is is where I live.”
Wally Lamb was born in Norwich October 17, 1950.His parents, Walter and Anna, raised Wally and his sisters, Vita and Gail, in a modest home on McKinley Avenue. Hisfather worked for the gas department of the public utilitiesdepartment of Norwich (now Norwich Public Utilities).His mother, whose maiden name was Pedace, was one of 11children of Italian immigrants.He attended Norwich public schools before entering Norwich Free Academy, graduating in 1968. Following high school he went to college up the road a few miles, atthe University of Connecticut.“I got out of UCONN and went right back to NFA,” hesaid. “I always knew I wanted to teach.”He taught in the English Department there for 25 years,leaving in 1998. He then instructed courses at UCONNfor a short time. He and his wife, Chris, raised, their threesons, Jared, Jason and Teddy, in Willimantic and Manseld.Two of the boys are now teachers.In 1999, Lamb agreed to visit the York CorrectionalInstitute in Niantic (Connecticut’s only women’s prison) tospeak with inmates.“I was just supposed to go there one time to speak,” saidLamb. “It clicked.”is year marks the 13th he has facilitated a writing course there. He has edited two collections of autobio-graphical stories from his students at the prison:
Couldn’t Keep It to Myself: Testimonies om Our Imprisoned Sisters
I’ll Fly Away: Further Testimonies om the Women of York Prison
We Are Water
Lamb had recently released his third and fourth books,
e Hour I First Believed
Wishin’ and Hopin’,
and was giving an interview on a local Norwich radio stationin 2009 when he was asked what his next book would beabout.“I had no idea, so I said, ‘maybe I’ll do something aboutthe ood,’” said Lamb. Listeners started calling into thestation. Among the people Lamb heard from was a woman who was cousins with three men who, as young boys, losttheir mother, Margaret Moody, in the ood.e March 6, 1963 ood sent as much as 6.5 milliongallons of icy-cold water pouring into downtown Norwich.e water, carrying ice blocks, rushed down from a burstdam at Mohegan Park at about 9 p.m. that night.Margaret Moody was one of six people killed in theood. As Lamb tells the story, Tom and Margaret Moody and their three young sons, ages 4, 2, and 6 months, got inthe car along with neighbor Tony Orsini, to try and escapethe coming water. e family lived on Lake Street andheaded toward Boswell in the car. But the car met the tidal wave of water, and was carried over a retaining wall locatedat the back of what was then Lamperell Motors. TomMoody and Orsini were able to li the three boys out of thecar and into a tree, said Lamb.“e father went back to grab the mother, and sheslipped away,” Lamb said.As part of his research for
We Are Water,
Lamb connect-ed with the three Moody boys, Tom, James and Shawn.
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