I have read only one novel by John Irving The World According to Garp many years ago, and although I enjoyed it I never read anything else by him for some inexplicable reason, since Irving writes the sort of fiction that I definitely enjoy big, long novels with a large cast of characters and several different main players These stories take years and go through generations, allowing the reader to ideally know these people inside and out and care about them most of all enjoy the novel while cooped in during a snowy afternoon, immersed in the story and oblivious to the outside world Who doesn t love when that happens Thinking about such fiction brought me back to Mr Irving I picked up Last Night in Twisted River purely on the strength of its opening chapter, where a young Canadian hesitates for too long It s 1954 and the young Canadian is working as a logger on the Androscoggin River in northern New Hampshire this short hesitation will cost him his life, as he slips from the logs and goes underwater Despite tries his body can t be recovered by other loggers they predict that it will most probably drift with the logs along the Androscoggin, all the way to the place where they re collected and taken away Twisted River is a small settlement and the inspiration behind its name its obvious it has its share of loggers who don t shy away from drink and fight because there just aren t enough women, and logging as an industry is slowly dying out The premature death of the young Canadian affects its inhabitants, among whom are Dominic Baciagalupo and his son, Danny the camp s Italian American cook and his son The drowning of the young boy reminds Dominic of how he has lost his wife, 10 years ago, on the very same river it also affects Ketchum, a friend of Dominic and Danny who has worked as a logger for as long as anyone can remember He was there when Rossie fell through the frozen river, and 10 years later he couldn t grasp the hand of the young Canadian who slipped from the logs.The early section of the novel is clearly the best The logging settlement of Twisted River is an interesting location in the middle of the wilderness that is northern New Hampshire, and its history and the stories of its inhabitants are detailed and engaging Contrary to other reviewers, I didn t find the details on the logging industry boring Irving has woven them into his narrative in a way that they read fluently, and aren t just a side note or unimportant trivia The death of Angel Pope that s the young Canadian s name is not the novel s defining disaster it s just the sign of things to come Claiming to have once chased a bear out of his kitchen by hitting it with an iron skillet, Dominic keeps the tool hanging on the wall of his bedroom if a similar emergency arose once again One night young Danny is disturbed by noises that he cannot comprehend and which are coming from his uncle s bedroom Fearing for his life he enters it, it and before he can know what he s doing grabs the skillet to save his uncle s life to save him from what his uncle claims to have defended himself long ago an attack by a bear.It s not a bear who ends up dead, though, and the duo goes on the run to avoid the wrath and fury of local constable, a mean and drunk cowboy named Carl who delights in hurting people and abusing the law Dominic and Danny will spend the next several decades moving from place to place across the eastern part of the U.S Boston, Iowa, Vermont and elsewhere and across the border to Canada and Toronto, escaping the repercussions of an accident This could have been a great novel, but isn t When Dominic and Danny leave Twisted River and go on the lam the novel loses its focus and diverges into too many streams In the decades that the novel describes Danny will grow up to be a successful novelist, giving Irving a platform for commentary on the process of writing fiction much similarities can be found between Danny, his fiction and John Irving himself both Irving and Danny attended the Iowa Writer s Workshop and took classes by Kurt Vonnegut, both evaded Vietnam because they became young fathers, etc Through Danny Irving thinks about writing what it is that makes a good novel, where to write best as the story withers down and gives in to commentary on writing fiction many digressions simply go nowhere, contrivances becomeobvious and irritating , important and interesting events are happening off screen I certainly don t mind reading authors writing about the intricacies of creating their novels but not when I m reading them The story skips and hops through decades without paying much heed to chronology perhaps it s just me, but thia approach made me lose interest even faster instead of saving it, and by the end I reached the last page I put the novel down feeling largely indifferent about it which isn t always a condemnation, but can never be considered a praise.I m sure John Irving has many fine novels, and I wish that this was one of them Perhaps I should have chosen one of his earlier works this one simply doesn t live up to its promise. I don t have the heart to write much of a review for this one but I m going to write something since I won this in a giveaway and the point of the giveaway is for people to review the books If you re an Irving fanatic, you should find something to love about this book There are bears everywhere And death And violence There s running and a few passing references to wrestling There are bogeymen And nude people There are characters who are obsessed over the possibility of losing their loved ones And loved ones who seem to have a knack for dying One character is a novelist One character exclaims rather than speaks Constipated Christ is one of his favorites It spans generations and travels across North America It has vivid scenes that you ll likely never forget It s imaginative.But it s also about 200 pages too long 550 total It s repetitive It repeats itself It says the same thing over and over again Is that an echo that you hear Why yes, it is That is correct You do hear an echo Indeed, my friend Indeed If you were to zone out for a few minutes while reading it, have no fear if it s important enough it will be repeated for you again a few pages later Hell, even if it s a minor detail there s a good chance it will be repeated again Seriously, this book is at least 200 pages too long It abuses the use of parenthetical remarks Yes, it does And it has such strong hints of his other books that you ll wonder if he s merely recycling old material And yetI didn t hate it At times I actually liked it But it never swept me off my feet I never lost myself in it Ultimately, at no point did it reward me for reading it So off it goes to hang out next to my other 2 star books Hey, I gave Lolita two stars, so what the fuck do I know, right I m going to pass this book on to a Goodreads friend who loves John Irving and who is quickly becoming a must read reviewer I hope he loves this book, writes a great review, and exposes this one as the steaming pile of bear shit that it is As if it weren t already obvious that this review stinks. In , In The Cookhouse Of A Logging And Sawmill Settlement In Northern New Hampshire, An Anxious Twelve Year Old Boy Mistakes The Local Constable S Girlfriend For A Bear Both The Twelve Year Old And His Father Become Fugitives, Forced To Run From Coos County To Boston, To Southern Vermont, To Toronto Pursued By The Implacable Constable Their Lone Protector Is A Fiercely Libertarian Logger, Once A River Driver, Who Befriends ThemIn A Story Spanning Five Decades, Last Night In Twisted River John Irving S Twelfth Novel Depicts The Recent Half Century In The United States As A Living Replica Of Coos County, Where Lethal Hatreds Were Generally Permitted To Run Their Course From The Novel S Taut Opening Sentence The Young Canadian, Who Could Not Have Been Than Fifteen, Had Hesitated Too Long To Its Elegiac Final Chapter, Last Night In Twisted River Is Written With The Historical Authenticity And Emotional Authority Of The Cider House Rules And A Prayer For Owen Meany It Is Also As Violent And Disturbing A Story As John Irving S Breakthrough Bestseller, The World According To GarpWhat Further Distinguishes Last Night In Twisted River Is The Author S Unmistakable Voice The Inimitable Voice Of An Accomplished Storyteller Near The End Of This Moving Novel, John Irving Writes We Don T Always Have A Choice How We Get To Know One Another Sometimes, People Fall Into Our Lives Cleanly As If Out Of The Sky, Or As If There Were A Direct Flight From Heaven To Earth The Same Sudden Way We Lose People, Who Once Seemed They Would Always Be Part Of Our Lives A ludicrous melodrama as twisted as the title crafted into the believable by a master Most of all it s about the consequences of accidents, and dancing A young boy and his father spend their lives as fugitives view spoiler after he accidently kills a woman he d mistaken for a bear hide spoiler I am a lifelong fan of John Irving and as such was thrilled to see this book on the shelves He s not exactly prolific so I look at a new Irving book as a special treat As B.B King said, the thrill is gone I was quite disappointed in this book While it was an enjoyable read for the most part, the plot meanders and not a lot actually happens Ostensibly the story is about people running from their past but only rarely does it come close to catching up to them until the end which you see coming Irving also has started repeating himself While we are all used to his repeating themes bears, Vienna, wrestling , especially in his earlier books, he has now begun to repear actual events from earlier books He s better than that I also had issue with the self righteousness of the author character when he discussed writing So much of the book is obviously autobiographical, it came across as though Irving was trying to tell us what good writers do and oh by the way I am one I did enjoy the book because Irving at his worst is still better than most others at their best but for him I was disappointed Este livro tem um defeito 650 p ginas Devia ter 1300 N o 1950 N o muitas mais.Tudo o resto perfeito Sinopse Numa hist ria que abrange cinco d cadas, A ltima Noite em Twisted River retrata o ltimo meio s culo nos Estados Unidos.Desde a primeira frase do romance at ao ltimo cap tulo, A ltima Noite em Twisted River foi escrito com autenticidade hist rica e emocional O que mais o distingue a voz inconfund vel do autor a voz inimit vel de um ex mio contador de hist rias. I loved this one as third best among the seven Irving novels I ve read so far after Garp and In One Person It satisfied my taste for his blend of absurd tragedy and sentimentality, larger than life characters rendered as grittily real, and warm hearted evocation of places and communities in New England Worthy themes for me include the impossible task of fathers to protect their sons from the cruel accidents of life and the benefits and negative consequences of a writer treating his own life as a story.The story starts in a logging camp in northern New Hampshire where a teenaged boy working on a river drive drowns and disappears under the logs The colorful foreman Ketchum is devastated by guilt, and he and his best friend Dominic, a cook for the timber company, can t help reeling from the painful reminder of the similar loss of Dominic s wife Rosie ten years before when the three were dancing on the river ice at night when they were drunk That they both loved Rosie contributes to their close ongoing bonds, as does their heightened concern to protect Dominic s twelve year old son Danny from any such accidents of fate in the future Ketchum is a wonderfully rendered as a foul mouthed, heavy drinking libertarian who is both tough and tender and quite a sage The book is Danny s story, who grows up to be a successful writer From the beginning his imagination is distorted by the fictions he has been told by those who love him, and that gets him in trouble For example, told that the heavy iron skillet Dominic keeps close at hand was once used to kill a bear, he uses it in the middle of the night to defend his father from what looks like a bear attack In fact, he ends up killing his father s gigantic lover As a consequence, Dominic is about revenge from her boyfriend, a cruel lawman known as the Cowboy, and he decides to run away with Danny From this beginning, Irving takes us on the road as Danny grows up in a series of cities where Dominic works as a cook, infusing us with a myriad of new characters and the rich details of the restaurant business We live them in Boston, Vermont, and finally Toronto Danny goes to prep school and grows up to be a successful writer, and we follow his life in various locations, series of love relationships, and struggles with balancing fiction and autobiography in his work We jump forward and backward in time, at times presaging and moving toward significant events, at other times slipping back toward them from the far side That reminds me of Dominic s wall of pictures in which shots from all different times of his life with Danny and their significant people are placed together out of order Throughout the book Danny is something of a cipher, knownthrough his observations than as a true actor in his life For example, I didn t feel any grieving from him when he accidentally killed Dominic s woman and beloved babysitter , and it will take other family tragedies much later for him to come into better focus I guess this is Irving s way of showing the special status of a writer aslike a window than a door In time we come to realize Danny is the one who is writing the book in our hands, and we can t help wondering how much he is Irving Of course Irving probably didn t spend much of his life hoping to encounter again a gigantic naked skydiver like Danny experienced as a boy A tour of the Wikipedia entries on Irving and the novel was worthwhile to me to understand a number of the parallels between Danny and Irving s life There are enough to make you wonder how much the metaphors and themes Danny works with in both life and his writing are ones that figure importantly in the author s own life Danny s and Irving s method of starting with the ending of a novel and working toward completion of its beginning reminds of how a river exists with its beginning and end simultaneously present despite its temporal and spatial flow to those who might experience submersion in it The wind shaped pine on the book s cover is a representation of what Danny meditates on from the window of his winter cabin site on the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron at the end of the book, a symbol to him of his crippled father s strengths in the face of life s cruel weather It turns out that the picture was taken by Irving s own son of a tree at his cabin site on the lake where Irving does much of his writing I wonder who was Ketchum for Irving in rendering the exhortation to Danny You keep skirting the darker subjects You ve got to stick your nose in the worst of it, and imagine everything, Danny The book coheres despite the ambition it seems to encompass all of life with a portrayal of lives over fifty years of history There are plenty of diversions that make many impatient with their impact on focus For me, the effect was that of a lingering in the midst of life, a holding onto meaningful elements and details bound to be lost in time I loved the sweep and warm heartedness of the tale It enthralled me the same way that Bellow s Adventures of Augie March. I had such high hopes for this book I thought to myself in the beginning Hey, John Irving is finally BACK as a great American writer Unfortunately, little by little, the wheels started to come off the bus, and I found myself trudging through another story that was growingtedious and dull with every page The characters that started out so promising, evolved into flat, lifeless souls And why does Irving always have to throw the sport of wrestling into the mix Sadly, John Irving continues to disappoint Thank goodness we have Richard Russo. Update This is 2.99 Kindle special today personally I think it s one of John Irving s best I just notice my old review A sentence Life was so muchsimple here on Goodreads back then perhaps I should take a lesson GREAT BOOK This story was great from the first page to the last sentence of the book I loved it I m just waiting for John Irving s NEW RELEASE Does anyone else think that this is one of the worst books ever I mean, not even among Irving s Where was the editor This had all the marks of a poor first novel, not the twelfth by what I used to think a first rate novelist Cannot believe I slogged through the entire 550 pp the story could ve been told in 250, tops So much repetition Telling rather than showing One dimensional characters No apparent reasons for their actions at many points Over description We know the bear smells bad, the food Dominic prepares is always perfectly tasty And, yeah, Ketchum, Constipated Christ is clearly what an old river driver would say Again And again Women always way too motherly sweet Carmella, Charlotte or way bad ass drug alcohol addicted whorish white trash unredeemable Rosie, Katie, Six Pack Pam, Dot, May or they have some kind of mysterious angelic qualities conveniently, because they re DEAD Injun Jane, Lady Sky And we as readers are supposed to believe that they are worth the trouble these men fight over While the trio of main male characters have the most sympathetic, human, caretaking qualities Daniel, the writer is so sensitive, sensible, successful and revered by adoring fans Irving wishes such a life for himself, or maybe he has this Irving spends pages showing off his knowledge or research which does little to carry the plot forward Often as a narrator, Daniel or Dominic is unreliable Scenes and situations where the characters were like a bad writing exercise throw a two year old into a hippie drug party with his neglectful mother and abiding, caring father and then let him remember specific, meaaningful gist from it in his 40 s C mon Then, the eventual grudge homicide it was almost a relief Really What the I expected so muchfrom John Irving who authored one of my favorite books APFOM.
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
- 554 pages
- Last Night in Twisted River
- John Irving
- 12 February 2019 John Irving