I kept thinking what s wrong with me The story felt a little flat I kept hoping tires would be filled soon so I d joy the rideand I did somewhat Between a virgin shop, mannequins that looked pregnant, with dialogue debatingif it s a sex doll or religious doll.and debate to snuggle a plastic virgin doll but feet would need to be amputated from the pedestal in order to do so , not only does the mannequin look like a misplaced literary character in a novel so does this novelat times The character Juan Diego has some of the same characteristics as the character Jack, in Irving s book Until I Find You which is another book where he is dominated by women,and searching for meaningful love and relationships It wasengaging than this one, even though I cringed in both of these novels at times , I felt both characters were similar, but Juan Diego, didn t fully have my heart In A Prayer for Owen Meany , Owen, the little guy, was so memorable He seem to win over everyone s hearts, So that s the difference for me On the surface many of the same elements that I loveabout John Irving are in this novel, but I wasn t all that excited about the story itself Juan Diego has many dreams he cherishes his childhood memories, and or he dreams of the women he has had sex with as an adult As a middle age man, he looks back on his childhood with exhilaration at his simple adventures They for the best times of his life His best memories as an adult they always include woman. touching him On his way to the Philippines to meet a former student, as a middle age old fart , he has to include the challenges of his physical health problems He s had a cripple foot since childhood, and he s taking beta blockers, often using his pill cutting device to take the prescribed dose while trying to time his medication with taking Viagra As a prominent novelist It s always women who will recognize him first, before men will As a child Juan Diego was a bright reading dump kid His sister Lupe, a year younger, were both were rescued by Father Pepe then live at the Church catholic orphanage run by the Jesuits Dump kids never take feeling safe for granted but the idea was to provide them withsafety So when he first came to the United States, living in Iowa, a University town, was exciting.as any adventure could be, yet as an older adult, it seemed it didn t really matter what country he was in, he pretty much felt diminished So What to make of this novel Mostly, I guess I felt that Juan Diego was a lonelywounded man I like parts of this novelthan other parts Im still glad I read it It s also possible that by having discussions with others I ll see other ways of looking at this story which will enhance my experience 3.5Thank You to Simon Schuster, Elelweiss, and John Irving I always appreciate the opportunity to be given this gift of being an early reader I ll keep reading John Irving as longas he keeps writing. What happened Considering the prominent author and colossal publisher why wasn t this book edited better So much word for word repetition, too many self indulgent generalities about what novelists are supposed to be like, and a protagonistsentimental than profoundly caring enough about his dear ones to make me fall in love them through his narrative Thank goodness for audiobook reader Armando Duran who can make the back of a cereal box sound like fine literature. Avenue of Mysteries focuses on the life of one Juan Diego, a Mexican American who grew up in a Mexican garbage dump, an orphanage and a circus The plot centres on his life as a fourteen year old with his sister, Lupe, whose language only he can understand and also Juan Diego as a crippled fifty four year old writer former teacher who has a problem with the social attitudes of the Catholic Church Featuring in the story is an in training Jesuit turned gay who is in love with a transvestite, a lion tamer, a mother who is a prostitute, dump dogs, Jesuit priests, companion ghosts, Juan Diego s gay parents both of whom contract Aids Hiv virus, a man who may or may not be Juan Diego s father, religious statues, a former student, Mexico, the Philippines, Lithuania and a girl who can read your thoughts I had approached this novel with some trepidation, knowing that a few of my Goodreads friends had struggled with it And likewise I struggled with it for a while At around page 200, I had abandoned any hope of knowing whether I was reading about Juan Diego s dream, his memory or his current story But then I started to relax and just let Irving take me where he was leading and something magical happened I started to enjoy reading it All the pieces fell into place and I fell in love with Juan Diego and the life he leads It made me laugh quite often, the oddly amusing and strange predicaments that Irving puts Juan Diego into, are so out there only Irving can do this to his characters I love it that this character is a writer, I love it that he has problems in his sex life, I love it that he has a connection with wrestling, I love it that he s a university professor, I love it that he has a physical disability which proves embarrassing, I love it that he is revered by a former student just like many other Irving characters Juan Diego feels comfortable, feels like I ve known him before, he s the type of character you can nearly imagine living a life somewhere in the real world.I had started to have review stress, wondering how on earth I was going to summarise the events in the novel coherently but I ve now abandoned any hope of doing that In this novel, life is complex, messy, rarely fair and always unexpected It is also funny, thoughtful, distracting, joyous and emphatic Only Irving can make me have such a 360 turnaround about a book I think Juan Diego has earned a place alongside Garp and Owen Meany as my favourite Irving characters Well done, Mr Irving 5 DNF 15% Irving s lost his touch I hate to say it because he s one of my favorites, but this feels like a lukewarm rehashing of previous material in a setting better suited to T.C Boyle Juan Diego is a neurotic writer, obsessed with taking his beta blockers and Viagra and perving on women old and young During his childhood in a Mexico slum he was known as the dump reader for his love of books Now an Irving esque middle aged writer with an Indian circus novel to his credit, to boot , he s on his way back to the Philippines to face his past.It s entirely possible Juan Diego s sister Lupe will turn into an interesting female character, but I didn t stick around long enough to find out I looked over the first six chapters several weeks ago and haven t had any compulsion to return to the book I particularly disliked Irving s habit of always referring to his protagonist as Juan Diego or the writer Maybe I ll pick this up again someday, but at this point I m reading so many other books that excite me that I can t be bothered to continue Compare to In One Person, which repeats Irving staples but is at least likeable. First appeared at There s no pulling punches on this one John Irving s new novel, Avenue of Mysteries, is bad It s my least favorite of all the books of his I ve read which is 10 of his 14 novels Yes, indeed, Avenue of Mysteries takes its place at the butt end.It s a nearly focus less, spaghetti at the wall story, but with a totally clich overarching theme of the intersection of dreams and memories An aging writer named Juan Diego travels to the Philippines to honor a promise he made as a boy During this trip, he periodically falls asleep and dreams of his childhood in Oaxaca, Mexico His sister Lupe the two kids are orphans can read people s minds They love dogs Juan Diego is a good reader They are devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe There are ghosts, demons, arguments over Catholicism, arguments over where writers get their ideas autobiography vs imagination , there is deviant sex, there is a Jesuit in training who falls in love with a transvestite prostitute, there are circus performers and lions, the AIDS epidemic, Viagra, etc., etc., etc It s an utter mess And the worst part You d think with all these disparate elements, Irving could at least spin us a good yarn But no The story itself about Juan Diego wondering around in the Philippines with two mysterious women with whom he periodically has sex and the bildungsroman esque flashbacks dreams to his childhood in Mexico is, with a few exceptions here and there the 75 or so pages about the circus were great , totally snooze inducing It s long, it s often repetitive he re uses the same phrases, or tells us the same piece of information several times, often multiple times in the same chapter or on the same page, as if we ve forgotten, and he s reminding usor he just needed a bit of editing , and, at the end of the day, just not the same quality of story for which Irving is known.So this makes four of Irving s last five novels that haven t even approached the level of his most famous and best works, like A Prayer for Owen Meany, which is still one of my Top Five favorite novels of all time The Fourth Hand 2001 was okay, but just sort of odd, and a bit thin Until I Find You 2005 was long and repetitive my second least favorite of the 10 of Irving s novels I ve read Last Night In Twisted River 2009 , however, was fantastic I really loved it, and I thought this heralded a return to form for Irving But then In One Person 2012 was decent, but uneven, and then with Avenue of Mysteries 2015 , Irving just went off a cliff.Is this it for him It s definitely a conspicuous downwards trend Indeed, I can t even say for sure that Irving, one of my erstwhile favorite writers, is a must read for me any if he publishes anything new All I do know is that reading this made me really sad, and if you re on the fence about reading it, my recommendation is to read something better. I have been reading John Irving since my early teens so well over thirty years now and I read and re read all of his books through Owen Meany Those books especially GARP, HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE, CIDER HOUSE, and OWEN MEANY had a massive impact on me I adored John Irving from the very first book of his that I encountered That adoration kept me reading everything he wrote after Owen Meany I just stopped re reading, and the books stopped rocking my world the way they had before, though I always look forward to his new novels and still enjoy his books a lot I especially liked Twisted River.AVENUE OF MYSTERIES was a bit of a slog for me took me ages to get through it I really liked the story about the dump kids but I had little interest in the modern day affairs of Juan Diego Also the last twenty pages of this book seemed endless and boring I found myself skimming I feel relieved to be finished but also a melancholy disappointment I don t know if I just wasn t in the right mood for this book or what it was my least favorite Irving novel yet Sigh. John Irving Returns To The Themes That Established Him As One Of Our Most Admired And Beloved Authors In This Absorbing Novel Of Fate And MemoryAs We Grow Older Most Of All, In What We Remember And What We Dream We Live In The Past Sometimes, We Live Vividly In The Past Than In The PresentAs An Older Man, Juan Diego Will Take A Trip To The Philippines, But What Travels With Him Are His Dreams And Memories He Is Most Alive In His Childhood And Early Adolescence In Mexico An Aura Of Fate Had Marked Him, John Irving Writes, Of Juan Diego The Chain Of Events, The Links In Our Lives What Leads Us Where We Re Going, The Courses We Follow To Our Ends, What We Don T See Coming, And What We Do All This Can Be Mysterious, Or Simply Unseen, Or Even Obvious Avenue Of Mysteries Is The Story Of What Happens To Juan Diego In The Philippines, Where What Happened To Him In The Past In Mexico Collides With His Future Now 73, John Irving is clearly in a retrospective, if not autobiographical, mood Like Last Night in Twisted River 2009 and In One Person 2012 , his new novel his 14th is fascinated with the portrait of the artist as a young man How does a child progress along the avenue of mysteries that leads to becoming an adult storyteller The complex response evolves from two distinct, but mingled story lines In the present tense, we follow the beloved teacher and novelist Juan Diego Guerrero as he travels from Iowa to the Philippines to fulfill a promise made years ago to a young draft dodger Though Juan Diego is 54 years old, he s so addled by the requirements of his flights and his medications that he seems decades older, an impression emphasized by his poor health, his crippled foot and the fact that he d outlived everyone he d loved That sounds gloomy, butTo read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post https www.washingtonpost.com entert Has enough time passed to discuss this travesty yet Nope.To a dyed in the wool Irving fan, the experience is way too painful to relive. I won this book through a GR giveaway, and I read every word.I am mentioning this only because some of the reviews I ve read here are from those who didn t finish I did Now not saying this is one of Mr Irving s finest novels, because I don t believe it is It has a little of everything in it writer as MC worries on dying and death when to take a Lopressor or a Viagra The past, present, and ruminations on all those who come and go mostly go as we move through life AND magical realism, AND a lot about religion, mostly the Catholic Church And sex, of course Take all those elements, throw them in a blender, put it on high and see what comes out You get a kind of soupy mixture that s a little about a lot of things The story is about writer Juan Diego and his reflections on his past, the things he remembers most, the way his life twisted and turned, his ultimate fate, and basically, how to get through each day He s on a trip to Manila, in the Philippines and along the way he meets two women who step in and out of his daily routine Who they are and why they re there, that s a mystery It s also a travelogue as Juan Diego flies to Hong Kong, then Manila, and back and forth in time as he recalls significant events and people in his past He starts out as a boy living in a dump in Mexico, where he rescues burned books and reads them Never mind that the books are the throw aways from a religious library His sister can read people s minds his mother is a cleaning woman and prostitute his father might be the dump boss There is lots of religious imagery and history, and a chief focus on Our Lady of Guadalupe Juan Diego gets involved with a novice priest, a transvestite, and the many members of a traveling circus As a child Juan Diego lives in the dump he lives in an orphanage he briefly joins that traveling circus Altogether, It s a convoluted story, one in which Juan Diego is the anchor If you ever get lost reading this, look for JuanWhere is he How is he How s his health Should he take the Viagra or the beta blockers How does he feel about the Church About fate and destiny About making choices, the big ones and the small What about sex Yes, no, maybe, why not There s also a lot of sex in the book, often described, frequently mentioned I doubt there was one major character who didn t have sex, or talk about, or think about it A LOT What are his thoughts on writing And here is where Mr Irving gets to expound on a topic he knows a lot about Writers live in their imaginations and even when not physically writing, there is almost always writing going on in their heads It s almost a struggle to step out of that world and into the real one All throughout the book are references to the subject, including the big question that writers often argue about and grapple with Do writers write from personal experience Or do they simply use their imagination to make things up Sounds simple enough, but it s a subject writers love wrangling with, citing their own backgrounds and experience and those of other writers throughout history Shakespeare is the huge example often cited on both sides of this argument I found it to be an interesting read I put aside other books I m currently reading to focus on this one Not bad overall.
JOHN IRVING was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942 His first novel, Setting Free the Bears, was published in 1968, when he was twenty six He competed as a wrestler for twenty years, and coached wrestling until he was forty seven Mr Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times winning once, in 1980, for his novel The World According to Garp He received an O Henry Award
- 460 pages
- Avenue of Mysteries
- John Irving
- 15 August 2019 John Irving