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Until I Find You: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 12, 2005


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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (July 12, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400063833
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400063833
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 6.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (303 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #754,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

At over 800 pages, John Irving's Until I Find You is a daunting proposition at best. Anyone who finishes it will have acquired forearm muscles, sore shoulders, and not much else. The story is self-indulgent, repetitive and, ultimately, boring, that cardinal sin that readers can't forgive. Longtime Irving readers have stayed with him through a few hits and a miss or two, but this is an all-time low. We are accustomed to Irving's work as quirky, bizarre, and off-the-wall and have forgiven all by calling such high-jinks and characters "imaginative" or "absolutely original." The only thing original about this tome is the descent into soft porn.

Jack Burns, the hero of the tale, is four years old when it all begins. He is the illegitimate son of Daughter Alice, a tattoo artist and, guess what, daughter of a tattoo artist. She takes Jack on a pilgrimage to find his womanizing father, William, a church organist and "ink addict." By seeking out church organs and tattoo parlors, she expects to find him. She doesn't, and by now we have spent more than a hundred pages in Northern European cities doing an imitation of Groundhog Day. Same story, different day: a little prostitution for Alice, a few questions asked; alas, no daddy.

Alice and Jack return to Toronto so that Jack may enter a previously all-girls school, which will admit little boys for the first time. There begins another 200 pages of the girls and the teachers abusing Jack, over and over again. By now, he is five and is, for some unfathomable reason, eminently interesting to girls and women. His "friend" Emma keeps careful track of "the little guy," as she calls Jack's penis, looking for signs of life. The worst part of all this is that none of it is funny or sad or even clever. There are wrestling vignettes, of course, and prep school tedium, but no bears. Maybe bears would have saved it. There were funny parts in The World According to Garp and The Cider House Rules as well as poignant, horrific parts in both of those and other Irving novels. This story is flat. The voice never changes; it just drones on.

Jack becomes an actor. First, he is a boy in drag because he is so pretty, then he takes transvestite parts. He and Emma, now a published novelist, live together in LA, which provides endless opportunity for name-dropping. His career eventually takes off and he gets recognition and awards, but still no daddy. Irving, it turns out, never knew his father, either. Perhaps this exercise will exorcise that demon once and for all and Irving's next book will be about something more compelling than a little boy's penis and his trashy mother's antics. If you do make it through to the book's snapper of an ending, you deserve to find out what it is on your own. Call it a reward. --Valerie Ryan

From Publishers Weekly

Actor Jack Burns seeks a sense of identity and father figures while accommodating a host of overbearing and elaborately dysfunctional women in Irving's latest sprawling novel (after The Fourth Hand). At the novel's onset (in 1969), four-year-old Jack is dragged by his mother, Alice, a Toronto-based tattoo artist, on a year-long search throughout northern Europe for William Burns, Jack's runaway father, a church organist and "ink addict." Back in Toronto, Alice enrolls Jack at the all-girls school St. Hilda's, where she mistakenly thinks he'll be "safe among the girls"; he later transfers to Redding, an all-boy's prep school in Maine. Jack survives a childhood remarkable for its relentless onslaught of sexual molestation at the hands of older girls and women to become a world-famous actor and Academy Award–winning screenwriter. Eventually, he retraces his childhood steps across Europe, in search of the truth about his father—a quest that also emerges as a journey toward normalcy. Though the incessant, graphic sexual abuse becomes gratuitous, Irving handles the novel's less seedy elements superbly: the earthy camaraderie of the tattoo parlors, the Hollywood glitz, Jack's developing emotional authenticity, his discovery of a half-sister and a moving reunion with his father.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

John Irving published his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, in 1968. He has been nominated for a National Book Award three times-winning once, in 1980, for the novel The World According to Garp. He also received an O. Henry Award, in 1981, for the short story "Interior Space." In 1992, Mr. Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 2000, he won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules-a film with seven Academy Award nominations. In 2001, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Last Night in Twisted River is John Irving's twelfth novel.

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Customer Reviews

I just finished this book last night and could not have been more disappointed.
Bud
As a result it is impossible to engage with any of the characters, and the book is just a bore.
A. Dickens
No, this isn't my favorite of John Irving's books...but I didn't expect it to be.
B. Morse

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

104 of 109 people found the following review helpful By Brett Benner VINE VOICE on August 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have to start off by saying John Irving is my favorite living writer. Both 'A Prayer for Owen Meany' and 'The Cider House Rules' are fantastic timeless classics that will secure him as our modern day Dickens. After the disapponting "Fourth Hand" I had high hopes for this book. Yet for the first time with an Irving book I found myself getting bored.

Jack Burns, a famous actor, searches for the father who abandoned he and his mother when he was a small boy. In classic Irving style there are a myriad of colorful characters who populate the novel, but having read everything else he's written, so many themes from previous novels are re-worked (sexual abuse the most dominant)that it feels like Irving is trying to wrestle his own demons and needs to take advice given to Jack and, "Forgive and move on."

However the biggest problem for me was I felt no connection with Jack. For the first time I felt I was reading about someone I couldn't care less about, so any supposed emotional wallop at the end was lost. I never felt there was an Owen or Wilbur in the whole book. Even Emma Oastler,who is one of the novel's best characters, pales in comparison to the very similar Hester Eastman, from Owen Meany.

The book has some great laugh out loud moments, (in particular Jack's attending an all girl school in Toronto),if you can get beyond the strong sexual abuse and misuse that occurs rather frequently in the first 400 pages. Anyone who is a rabid Irving fan will want to read it and judge for themselves, but for a first timer, I'd strongly suggest the two superb novels I mentioned earlier.
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful By BJ Fraser VINE VOICE on September 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In sports, especially boxing, there are always those formerly great athletes who stick around too long for one last season or one last fight and in the process tarnish their legacy by revealing themselves to be merely ordinary. Starting with his last book, "The Fourth Hand" and continuing with "Until I Find You", John Irving is tarnishing his reputation as a great author of books like "The World According to Garp", "The Cider House Rules", and "A Prayer for Owen Meany." For a huge fan of Irving's older work like myself, "Until I Find You" is without a doubt the author's most disappointing effort.

The book gets off to a pretty good start with 4-year-old Jack travelling to Scandinavia with Alice, his mother, supposedly in search of his womanizing father William. This turns out to be untrue for the most part. The pace at this point is good as Irving takes the reader to Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, and Amsterdam (which should be familiar to Irving readers from "A Widow for One Year") where we meet lots of interesting tattoo artists, organists, choirgirls, and the obligatory prostitutes. By the time Jack and Alice board the ship for Canada, there could be an interesting story about the relationship between Jack and his parents.

But then it takes Irving about 600 pages to really get back to this story. For those 600 pages we have a lot of filler and the obligatory private schools and wrestling lessons that have become Irving staples. In the case of his earlier works, they add to the story, but in "Until I Find You", it does little more than fill the reader in on each year of Jack's life.
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62 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Ophelia on July 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am a loyal fan of Mr. Irving and have read his entire collection of stories over the years. But this book probably should have been edited down to a more reasonable size based on the nature of this particular story. It could have had some more material added and then possibly split into a sequel...

Despite the weighty moroseness and risqué portions of the book, which others have described, there are some other aspects of the story I found appealing. I found the minor characters to be very useful in fleshing out the living world around the main character and though some might think the number to be excessive, I think it actually helped.

Also, the masterful usage of flashbacks and a certain prevailing sincerity of conviction in telling the tale over all, kept me reading its 800+ pages.

It's a fine addition to his body of work and I eagerly await the next.

Also recommended, Anna's Trinity by Howard Cobiskey.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jacqueline Martin on August 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The talent on display in Irving's early novels was staggering in scope. So, because of these early reads, I hang on, awaiting the next novel but only disappointment follows. The World According to Garp is a treasure, The Hotel New Hampshire is a gem. Until I Find You is an excessively (and unnecessairly) drawn-out foray into disfunctional childhood, parent-child relations and the continuing search of the adult for the child. Irving has already done all of this and done it much better!! I understand this is semi-autobiographical...but the repetition and overflowing verbage could only satify the author himself. It is an artist's most difficult job to know when the task is complete...in this case, that would have been some 300 pages less than the more than 800 those of us who stayed the course waded through. The removal of hundreds of adverbs, adjectives and repetitive phrases would surely be welcome. I will not be reading Irving's next slog into his phyche..been there, done that. And, in an aside, as I parent, I found the 4-year-old Jack quite remarkable for his age. If his is the true voice here, it is overextended and unbelievable. A man of Irving's background will, of course, use those emotions, those holes in his soul, to spur creativity...fine. Just please stop beating us over the head with your angst.
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