Skip Navigation

Submitted Literature

I Know This Much Is True

By Wally Lamb


“I Know This Much Is True” explores schizophrenia, institutional care and abuse, and the difficulties experienced by carers.

Key Themes:

  • Carer Issues
  • Child Abuse
  • Institutional Abuses
  • Schizophrenia
  • Self-Injury

Significant Quotes / Pages

47 – “When you're the sane brother of a schizophrenic identical twin, the tricky thing about saving yourself is the blood it leaves on your hands-the little inconvenience of the look-alike corpse at your feet.  And if you're into both survival of the fittest and being your brother's keeper-if you've promised your dying mother-then say so long to sleep and hello to the middle of the night.  Grab a book or a beer.  Get used to Letterman's gap-toothed smile of the absurd, or the view of the bedroom ceiling, or the indifference of random selection.  Take it from a godless insomniac.  Take it from the uncrazy twin-the guy who beat the biochemical rap.”


51 – “It’s tempting to delude yourself when your screwed-up brother becomes gainfully employed and starts acting less screwed up for a while.  You begin to take sanity for granted-convince yourself that optimism’s in order.  Thomas had a girlfriend and a job and was living semi-independently.  If the signs were there, I guess I overlooked them.  Let down my guard.  Big mistake.




Nobody except Thomas and Nadine knew he'd stopped taking Haldol.  All that he's begun to wear a ring of aluminium foil around his head every night when he went to bed because it somehow let God's voice through but scrambled the messages of his enemies.  My brother: the human radio receiver pulling in the Jesus frequency.  Mr Tinfoil Head.  I mean, it's not funny, but it is.  If I didn't laugh about it sometimes, I'd be down in the bughouse in the bed next to his.” 

280 – “ ‘You want to know what its like me? Do you?  It's like… it's like… my brother has been an anchor on me my whole life.  Pulling me down.  Even before he got sick.  Even before he goes and loses it in front of…An anchor!...And you know what I get?  I get just enough Rope to break the surface.  To breathe.  But I am never, ever going to….You know what I used to think?  I used to think that eventually-you know, sooner or later-I was going to get away from him.  Cut the cord, you know?  But here I am, forty years old and I'm still down at the nuthouse, running interference for my fucking….Treading water.  It's like… like…And I hate him sometimes.  I do.  I'll admit it.  I really hate him.  But you know something?  Here's the really fucked-up part. Nobody else better same thing-nobody else better even look at him cross-eyed or I’ll….And the thing is, I think I finally get it, you know?  I finally get it.’”

Reference: Wally, Lamb. 1998. I Know This Much Is True. London: Harper Collins, 2000


- Charley Baker
Date Review Submitted: Friday 20th March 2009