Like anything newsworthy, miracles of medicine and technology inevitably make their way out of the headlines and become the stuff of fiction. In recent years readers have been absorbed by media accounts of a transplanted hand, an experiment that ultimately ended in amputation. Medical ethicists reason that a hand, unlike a heart or a liver--essential organs conveniently housed out of sight--is in full view and one of a pair, arguably dispensable. In his 10th novel, however, John Irving undertakes to imagine just such a transplant, which involves a donor, a recipient, a surgeon, a particular Green Bay Packer fan, and the remarkable left hand that brings them together.
Television reporter Patrick Wallingford becomes a story himself when he loses his hand to a caged lion while in India covering a circus. The moment is captured live on film, and Patrick (who wears a "perpetual but dismaying smile--the look of someone who knows he's met you before but can't recall the exact occasion") is henceforth known as the lion guy. Before long, plans are made to equip Patrick with a new hand. Doctor Nicholas M. Zajac, superstar surgeon, indefatigable dog-poop scooper, runner, and part-time father, is poised to perform the operation. But the donor--or rather the widow of the donor--has a few stipulations. Doris Clausen wants to meet the one-handed reporter before the procedure, and insists on visitation rights afterward. Irving weaves these characters and a panoply of others together in a smart, funny, readable narrative. Often farcical, The Fourth Hand is ultimately something more: a tender chronicle of the redemptive power of love. --Victoria Jenkins
--This text refers to the
From Publishers Weekly
As the world watches, handsome TV journalist Patrick Wallingford, who is obsessed with minutely described one-night stands, has his hand eaten by a lion at the Gnesh Circus. (The gnesh is an Indian symbol of new beginnings). Viewer Doris and her husband Otto are obsessed with the Green Bay Packers and with having a child. Doris cajoles Otto into willing his left hand to Patrick and surprise! Otto soon (accidentally?) kills himself. Famous hand surgeon Nicholas Zajak is, for his part, obsessed with dog feces also described in endless detail which he scoops up with his old lacrosse stick and hurls at rowers on the Charles River. Zajak attaches Otto's hand to Patrick, and Doris demands visitation rights with Otto's hand, as well as with Patrick's child-producing equipment. Though their motivations remain unclear, all three characters are redeemed by their newfound obsessions with winning the love of their sons. Culp's clear, pleasant, middle-range reading voice, appropriately ironic tone and fun, exaggerated Boston accents are easy on the ears. Simultaneous release with Random House hardcover (Forecasts, June 25).
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--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.