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Last Night in Twisted River Paperback – 16 Sep 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan (16 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552776572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552776578
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 4.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 194,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Last Night in Twisted River is a big, old-fashioned novel in the best sense; Irving has created in painstaking, loving detail a whole and complete world, a record of momentous social changes, but, above all a testament to the enduring power of love and fiction" (Observer)

"Irving fans will relish this action-packed tale of father-and-son runaways" (The Sunday Times)

"The most poetic and powerful of Irving's work to date" (Independent on Sunday)

"Nothing less than show-stopping" (Guardian)

Book Description

A breathtaking story of a father and a son in 20th-century North America from the award-winning author of A Prayer for Owen Meany.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been enjoying John Irving's novels for well over twenty years, but found his previous book (Until I Find You) unengaging. "Last Night in Twisted River" is, by contrast, a magnificent work that is absolutely up there with the best books John Irving has written.

The novel begins with a straightforward story, set in the logging camps of the great north woods in 1954. The subsequent sections divide up the years between then and 2005, and each continue the story, but not in a linear or expected direction. At times this can be disconcerting, and new information about the events of the previous chapters forces the reader to reinterpret the on-going story: I often found myself re-reading earlier sections in light of later discoveries.

The themes may superficially be familiar to John Irving readers, but it is not a re-treading of old ground. The tone of the book is about halfway between the exuberance of The World According to Garp, and the melancholy of A Widow for One Year, leaning slightly towards the later. If Garp is the story of youth to middle-age, then this novel can be seen as adding another half a life on top of that. The tendency of the novel to place crucial information unexpectedly in the middle of a paragraph can be emotionally shocking, particularly in the twelfth chapter. Many parts of the book are very moving.
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Format: Hardcover
Before I begin I should note that, in common with many of the other reviewers, I have been a fan of John Irving for a long time. I think I have read, and enjoyed, all of his books (including Until I Find You). A Prayer for Owen Meany is probably my favourite book of all time (and one of the few that has actually brought me to tears).

And then came Last Night in Twisted River.

I have just finished the book. This, in itself, I felt was a major achievement and primarily a reflection of the fact that I am very reluctant to put a book to one side once I have started it.

I am used, in John Irving's work, to encountering many unique (and often bizarre) characters, interacting against an unpredictable, sometimes quite shocking or disturbing backdrop of events. The pace is not always fast, but Irving has a knack for working his characters under the skin of the reader and then, with an unexpected plot twist, creating situations of great emotional intensity.

On the face of it, Last Night in Twisted River has all the hallmarks of a classic Irving novel. The events which it describes take place over a 50-year period, it has a full helping of slightly off-beat, emotionally and/or physically damaged characters and it hinges around a truly bizarre event (right at the start, for those who might be worried about a spoiler).

However, for me at least, that's where the similarities end.

I felt no attachment to any of the characters in the book (with the possible exception of Ketchum's farting dog, but that doesn't really count). I think this is because, despite the lengthy descriptive prose, none of the characters really made any emotional connection with me. They were just, I suppose, there.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a long-term fan of John Irving and think that The Cider House Rules is probably my favourite book. Unlike may of his books I found this hard to get into but once I did it was a page-turner.

I found I connected with the characters less in this than in other books. The characters (with the possible exception of Danny) are a little 2-dimensional for a lot of the book.

This would not be a good starter for readers new to John Irving.
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Format: Paperback
John Irving remains a favourite author of mine...despite Last Night on Twisted River. To read that he loves plot comes as somewhat of a surprise after a turgid novel which contains almost none. Father and son on the run. That's it.

Irving's later novels have become increasingly lacking the flair and humour of his early works. Twisted River takes that a step further; a quasi-picaresque novel, albeit with a wealthy main character, it deals in character, sub character, setting and minor events. Even the major emotional dramas as underplayed. The opening logging section is a good sign - if this gets you interested, then you'll probably like the rest. But logs floating down a river and the life of those loggers recounted in boorish detail did nothing for me. Nor did hearing about endless restaurants, or, I hate to say it, the tedious Ketchum, who should be one of the novel's saving graces. That he fails to engage us even with this typically quirky character is a bad omen.

I stuck with Twisted River as I have ready all of Irving's fiction. I am no now rather sadly looking forward to when he stops and I can no longer feel duty bound to read another. If you want to read Irving, stick to the greats - Owen Meany, Cider House, Hotel New Hampshire and Garp. This pales into insignificance alongside those.
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