177 of 209 people found the following review helpful
Too Much of the Same
, October 5, 2009
This review is from: Last Night in Twisted River: A Novel (Hardcover)
Some John Irving books I have loved and immediately devoured, and others I haven't been able to get past page 50 on...so as much as I look forward to a new Irving novel, I'm never sure which type it will be. With "Last Night in Twisted River" I took a deep breath and dove in...and I made it half-way before I started skimming; it's just too much of the same old thing.
The main characters are father and son, Dominic and Danny Baciagalupo, who begin in a logging camp (Dominic is the cook) and flee to Boston when "something bad happens". If you've read John Irving before, you know that the "something bads" that he details (and I mean DETAILS) are never run-of-the-mill accidents or incidents. His plot lines are full of freak-of-nature occurrences and amazing coincidences. Irving actually self-parodies in this novel regularly, as he described Danny's burgeoning writing career. As an example he (as the omniscient narrator) states: "...in any novel written with a reasonable amount of forethought, there were no coincidences." Again making fun of himself he writes: "...extreme details were mere indulgences the more mature writer would one day outgrow." Ha.
Present here, as with all Irving novels, you have several thoroughly researched and detailed accounts of setting and industry, such as the descriptions of the logging process in the 1950s, the workings of a logging camp, pizza making....
Also ever-present are some familiar Irving symbols such as the severed limbs, bears, older women sexually initiating boys too young, abortion, freak accidents, shallow women characters.
As in many of Irving's novels, there are clear autobiographical comparisons between Irving himself and the character of Danny, such as Exeter Academy, avoiding conscription to Vietnam due to marriage and child, and Danny having Kurt Vonnegut as a mentor as Irving himself did. Best not to read TOO much as autobiographical, though, since Danny's novels are also deceptive in that way.
Die hard Irving fans will not be disappointed, but I was looking for a little something different.
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