46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Only one word - extraordinary!,
By A Customer
This review is from: Until I Find You (Hardcover)
This is the only novel I have felt compelled to write a review of. Its impact upon me was profound and I have since re-read it. For such a huge novel, that is quite some undertaking.
This book is full of typical Irving-esque characters - wrestlers, tattooists, writers, not to mention an actor protagonist, Jack Burns. However, there is clearly something deeply personal in this book for the author here. The book is so vast simply because our experiences are so varied and compicated. Jack Burns emerges as a character with an psychological truth that is unprecedented in modern fiction. His memories and neuroses (maybe shared with the author?) dominate this book and each of the other characters is presented through his perceptions and experiences. Of course, this is how real life is for each of us. Everyone external to us can only be viewed subjectively and true 'objectivity' is actually impossible as long as we relate to others as humans. This is what Irving presents; a painfully real and limited human being who when confronted with agonising situations reacts in a pathetically human and limited way - just like all of us. If you find Jack an inexplicable or despicable character, you may get frustrated with this novel, but if you recognise him as a truthful portrayal of the product of an awkward and painful union of two real people you will be bowled over.
At the heart of this novel is a representation of family which has such love and empathy that it will braek your heart, if you have one. Certainly, no novel's climax has ever wrung such 'tears of blood' (Byron) from me. The psychological portrait of neurosis is incredibly accurate. It is possible that Irving has presented the reader with facts about himself wrung from years of self-analysis mixed with fiction. I can't theorise, but I can testify that he achieves a psychological truthfulness that is truly shocking to find in a novel.
Aside from this, there is enough eccentricity and weirdness to keep anyone laughing and satisfied. There are very few novels that I have made an impact on my emotional life rather than being some kind of cultural 'divertimento'. This is one of the few that have. (The other I can count on the fingers of one hand )
I have recommended this to everyone I am close to and none of them have failed to have been bowled over.