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Customer Review

177 of 209 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Much of the Same, October 5, 2009
This review is from: Last Night in Twisted River: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
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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Comments

Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 28 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 8, 2009 1:51:40 PM PDT
J. Polo says:
Your first line hit the nail on the head. I always have great hope for a new Irving novel, but recently have been dissapointed. I gave up on the last one about 100 pages in when I couln't stand one more trip to a tattoo parlor! I'm hoping he'll write another Garp or Owen Meany one day!

Ellen

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 9, 2009 2:43:19 PM PDT
Gerard L. says:
"His plot lines are full of freak-of-nature occurrences and amazing coincidences." This is exactly why I gave up on Irving after Owen Meany. That, and the fact that there is usually some kind of bizarre sexual relationship or incident.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 10, 2009 6:06:32 PM PDT
Its got the bizarre sexual relationships.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 20, 2009 12:34:49 PM PDT
Wayne says:
Owen Meaney picked up a lot in the later part of the book. I'm glad I didn't give up on it because it became one of my favorites. Irving is guilty as charged, and when you combine exhaustive detail with constant jumping around in time and location, it can be hard to tell if Irving is going anywhere or if the detail is just filler. With Owen Meaney, the details all proved to be critical to the later story line.

Owen is himself a freak of nature, and his tale is fantastic. But it is a novel and that's allowed. There's nothing bizarre sexually that I can recall, and Owen Meaney is far less a freak of nature than Superman or Spider man. Somebody once commented that if you can accept God, you can accept anything. Owen was a freak in terms of his abnormal development, which was not outside of the realm of reality. His nature, life story, and actions were certainly inexplicable, but that's the premise.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 26, 2009 5:29:58 PM PDT
M. Hughes says:
I don't remember Owen Meany the book having any bizarre sexual overtones.
I only recall:
1) the woman running the Christmas Pageant inadvertently giving Owen a boner whilst he was dressed as the baby Jesus.(embarrassing him)
2) the couple in the school fornicating in every dorm room while they thought all the kids were away on holiday break
3) Do you consider having your best friend's female cousin lay on top of you while you hid under the cushions of the couch to be sexually arousing?
I did finish the last one about the tattoos (forgot the title as his books since The Cider House Rules have run together) but I may give this one a try if I can get enough time where I am without high speed internet and other distractions. (like at my Mom's for Christmas)
PS wasn't it a darn shame what they did to Owen Meany in the movie?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2009 5:54:55 AM PST
J. arnold says:
thanks....you made my day with that line - "if you can accept God you can accept anything".

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2009 5:55:40 AM PST
J. arnold says:
thanks....you made my day with that line - "if you can accept God you can accept anything".

Posted on Nov 24, 2009 9:57:04 AM PST
Lulu says:
Although I was only able to get through the first 75 pages or so (hence I'm not writing my own review) I couldn't agree more with your excellent review. I learned WAY more about the logging industry than I cared to, and found the predictable themes you mentioned quite tedious. I could tell that I wasn't going to ever get into this book, though I have really enjoyed virtually everything John Irving has written right up until his last novel, Until I Find You. I made it about halfway through that book before giving up the ship. I didn't even make it that far with this one. Too bad because I've always considered JI one of my Top 10 favorite authors.

Posted on Dec 25, 2009 7:37:02 PM PST
When a reviewer admits that he/she only skims a book after the first 50/75 pages, you beg anyone to give credibility to your review.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2009 7:05:46 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 29, 2009 1:57:34 PM PST
Mary Lins says:
I think you miss-read my review. I don't skim a book and then write a review. You will note that I fully read at least HALF of this book...over 300 pages...and only skimmed to the end because it became unbearable for me to go on. That is, of course, my opinion, which is what a review is.
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