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Eddie spends the rest of his life obsessively writing novels like Sixty Times, his roman à clef about his 60 seductions by Marion. Ted is a failed novelist who gets rich and famous writing creepy children's stories based on tales he tells Ruth (such as The Mouse Crawling Between the Walls). Marion abandons Ruth, Ted, and Eddie and becomes a successful pseudonymous novelist. And Ruth becomes the most richly celebrated writer of them all because of her early training by Ted, who not only told her stories, but also helped her craft narratives to explain their home's many photographs of her brothers, who died in a gory car wreck the year before she was born. Grief over the boys is why Ruth's mother does not dare to love her.
Ruth, Irving's first female main character, works brilliantly, first as an imaginative, almost Salingeresque child coming to terms with her bewildering family, then as a grownup striving to understand her mother's motives--or at least to track her down. Ted is a mordantly funny caricature, interestingly sinister and plausibly self-justifying when most inexcusable. Eddie is a lovable schlemiel, yet not too sentimentally drawn. And what set pieces Irving can write! The story of the boys' death is horrific and effective in dramatizing the character of Ted, who narrates it. Ted's attempted murder by a spurned lover is as hilarious as the VW-down-the-marble-stairway scene in A Prayer for Owen Meany (which has been adapted by Disney Studios), though not quite on a par with the celebrated "Pension Grillparzer" episode in The World According to Garp (reissued in a 20th anniversary edition by Modern Library).
Irving has the effrontery to get away with practically any scene that comes into his head--Ruth winds up an eyewitness to a hooker's murder in Amsterdam, a Dutch detective starts tracking her down (just as Ruth is hunting Marion), and the multiple plot strands all converge in a finale that neatly echoes the opening scene. It's all done with the outrageously coincidental yet minutely realistic brio of Charles Dickens, with a sad, self-conscious jokiness like that of Irving's mentor, Kurt Vonnegut. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
They just don't make books like that anymore.
Many of his others, while I have enjoyed them, have put me off a little because the characters and/or the plot is a bit over the top, just too quirky for me.
John Irving's tragic novels are the most emotionally moving stories mainly because one develops a deep caring for the characters.
Complex story of the epic and multi generation type. Superb and detailed writing. This is long in the Irving tradition or trademark and just when I thought I had enough, there was... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Nancy Rossman
John Irving is an idolized writer, and he deserves it.
I am just an average, avid reader with no academic credentials that apply here. Read more
Excellent read again by John Irving, several plot twists that blow you away. Just when you think you know where he's going he gives you gut punch. Read morePublished 1 month ago by peter curtin
A log time in coming, but finally finished. A bit too cute on the resolution but, as always with John Irving, compelling characters with bizarre sexual hang ups.Published 2 months ago by M. Skeldon
The Door in the Floor section was the best but I also enjoyed the travel bits in later chapters. The book contains some obvious padding but it was enjoyable nevertheless.Published 2 months ago by Willie