I am a big John Irving fan. Through thick and thin, books I hate to books I love. The World According to Garp is on my Desert Island list from a previous post (you can see it here). John Irving has written 12 novels and I’ve read eight of them.
Despite the fact that I think Irving is an absolutely brilliant story teller, my reading experience with him has been uneven. Garp is, in my opinion, one of the classic American novels. I completely and utterly hated A Prayer for Owen Meany. I almost didn’t finish it. I never abandon books – I always finish them. The Cider House Rules and A Widow for One Year were stunning stories. So beautifully written. The Fourth Hand was just, meh. I found Until I Find You everything I love and dislike about Irving’s writing all packaged up in one: passages of brilliance mixed with stretches of total mediocrity.
Thankfully, Last Night in Twisted River is one of those great Irving books. Layered story lines that weave together in a masterful fashion; ranging from logging accidents, murder, a manhunt and, of course romances. Settings become characters of their own from New England to Boston to Toronto. Beautiful, raw, sentimental, damaged characters not the least of which is a loving father, a devoted best friend and a boy trying to make sense of his life.
I completely enjoyed it. The lovely twist this time though was Irving writing about writing through his main character Danny who as an adult writes (coincidentally) semi-autobiographical novels.
This is a must read Irving book. There are lots of plot and subplot twists, beautiful narrative and character development. He is a master and although they can’t all be good, inevitably, one will show up and blow your doors off.
Last Night in Twisted River