Last Night in Twisted River Paperback – 16 Sep 2010
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"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)
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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
First of all I have to say I'm a fan, a great lover of Irving's work. This had the usual complex, character driven, quirky plot but his strength, as ever, is in his writing style,... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Richard
I just love the way John Irving writes, this is such a fantastic read, I loved everything about the storyPublished 2 months ago by Frances
For a while when I read this I thought Irving was telling us this was his swansong. A novel about the art of writing as much as about its characters. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Malcolm Bourne
Written in Irving's typical sprawling prose, Last Night in Twisted River offers a breathtaking account of recent history in the US. Read morePublished 3 months ago by pike
I love John Irving he is so quirky and interesting but have to say that this book wasn't my cup of tea! Read more
Not a perfect novel by any means but with some memorable scenes and characters. Maybe people have become spoilt by some of Irving's previous works; some of which are undeniably... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Neil Isherwood