Friday, January 15, 2010
Book Review: Last Night in Twisted River
John Irving: how I adore him. I've been a faithful follower for decades, although I missed one or two along the line that didn't have stellar reviews. I have such fond memories of The World According to Garp and A Prayer for Owen Meany, especially. And I distinctly remember, upon finishing A Widow for One Year, declaring that it was a perfect novel. John Irving's writing sticks in my mind. Vividly.
Last Night in Twisted River is a wonderfully sprawling world of Irving. Unforgettable characters, scenes that are so vivid I wonder if they happened to me, and a twisted, crazy plot line. (And this particular world of Irving has loads of good food.)
The story in a nutshell: Dominic Baciagalupo and his son Daniel must flee from their home in Twisted River, a logging camp in New Hampshire after Daniel, age 12, accidentally kills someone. They find new identities in new places, always looking over their shoulders for the sheriff of Twisted River. Dominic grows older and Danny becomes a famous writer, and both men cling to each other and to Danny's son, Joe. Thrown into the mix is Dominic's passion for woman and cooking and also their crazy, Paul-Bunyan-like friend from Twisted River, Ketchum. It's a long and often disturbing journey from Daniel at 12 to Danny in his 60s, but it is well worth the journey. Irving is not clean-cut in the slightest, so don't read this if you like gentle fiction. But if you enjoy a story of epic proportions by a master storyteller, don't miss it.
I have to say that I was annoyed at one section of the novel, when Irving went on this strange political diatribe for a few chapters. I actually agreed with much of what he was saying, but I found this soapbox oddly placed and completely out of context with the rest of the novel. I didn't like that. On the other hand, I loved Irving adding cameos by authors like Kurt Vonnegut and Raymond Carver during Danny's time at the Iowa Writers Workshop. That was awesome.
If you loved The World According to Garp, you'll love this. If you've never read Irving, this might not be your best introduction. It may be best to start with A Prayer for Owen Meany and take Irving from there.
Other reviews of this book:
Best Book's Reviews
The New Dork Review of Books
(Got a review? Leave me a comment and I'll link up!)