Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
A Novel, Last Night in Twisted River (Hardcover) [Rough Cut Edge] by John Irvin Book Supplement – October 27, 2009
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The story itself was told mostly in flashbacks, so that the reader always had the sense of knowing what was going to happen before it did, just an an author knows where his story is going. The suspense therefore, was always regarding the how, maybe the why, but not the what. In the end notes, Irving states that he always writes from the end backward, getting the last first, and taking potentially years to "find" the beginning. That came across in the book. One could see in retrospect that the book was written that way. And, that was only one of many ways the author wove technique into the story and used the story to reveal technique.
But what of the story itself? The author admits in the end notes that it bears some elements of autobiography, but makes it clear that it is autobiographical only in the sense of rehearsing the worst things that might have, but happily did not happen to the author in his journey through life up to this point. It is a compelling, engrossing story, although it took this reader 10-20 percent of the book to become totally wrapped up in it. And, the tone of nostalgia, foreboding and survivor's guilt was always there, but never overwhelming.
I would not draw too many broad conclusions about the meaning of life from this book. It was, fundamentally, idiosyncratic, but I will venture one thought in that regard. So are all our lives.
I'd rank this up there with "The World According to Garp (Modern Library)", "A Prayer for Owen Meany (Modern Library)", and "The Cider House Rules: A Novel (Modern Library)", compared to Irving's previous great works. This book requires quite a bit of suspension of belief (or at least ignoring the unlikely coincidences that keep the thing moving, though, of course, that's Irving), and there's a bit of thinly veiled editorializing in the segments set after 2001--I didn't mind, since I agreed, but Dick Cheney probably wouldn't finish the book. Like the aforementioned Irving works, there's some humor (simple slapstick at times, and black at times); there are some points where you think "Oh, please, that wouldn't happen"; there are some points where you KNOW what's about to happen 20 pages in advance (though not HOW it relates to the next 100 pages); there are many beautiful and touching passages; the semicolon is appreciated as it is in my review; and there's quite a bit of sadness. I sincerely liked the character Danny, but beyond that, I wish there was a novel solely dedicated to Ketchum--Irving could write a series based on just the parts of his story that are hinted at here. If this were a movie, Ketchum would be the supporting actor who's in 15 minutes out of 100 minutes, and who wins the Oscar.
I'm going to read it again next week, just to try to pick up bits I may have missed the first time. Irving dropped a few scenes or even sentences in the novel that seem strangely connected to some of his previous novels, and I can't figure out if that's on purpose, coincidental, or just part of the overall narrative of Danny that one may derive after finishing the book. I have the feeling I'm missing something, and I love that.
And, yeah, there's a bear. Knowing this won't spoil anything, I assure you, but it might make you wonder what the creature has done to Mr. Irving in the past.