Last Night in Twisted River: A Novel (Unabridged)
by John Irving
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In 1954, in the cookhouse of a logging and sawmill settlement in northern New Hampshire, an anxious 12-year-old boy mistakes the local constable's girlfriend for a bear. Both the 12-year-old and his father become fugitives, forced to run from Coos County to Boston, to southern Vermont, to Toronto, pursued by the implacable constable. Their lone protector is a fiercely libertarian logger, once a river driver, who befriends them. In a story spanning five decades, Last Night in Twisted River - John Irving's 12th novel - depicts the recent half-century in the United States as "a living replica of Coos County, where lethal hatreds were generally permitted to run their course". From the novel's taut opening sentence - "The young Canadian, who could not have been more than 15, had hesitated too long" - to its elegiac final chapter, Last Night in Twisted River is written with the historical authenticity and emotional authority of The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany. It is also as violent and disturbing a story as John Irving's breakthrough best seller The World According to Garp. What further distinguishes Last Night in Twisted River is the author's unmistakable voice - the inimitable voice of an accomplished storyteller. Near the end of this moving novel, John Irving writes: "We don't always have a choice how we get to know one another. Sometimes, people fall into our lives cleanly - as if out of the sky, or as if there were a direct flight from Heaven to Earth - the same sudden way we lose people, who once seemed they would always be part of our lives."
Not Garp but Good
If you are a fan of John Irving you will have to listen to this. It is not as compelling as Cider House, Garp, or Hotel New Hampshire but much better than Setting Free the Bears, Fourth Hand, or Widow for One Year. I gave it three stars because I only compared it with other John Irving books. If you have never read any of his books you will probably love this work. If you have then you will find it interesting because all the same themes and familiar subjects are there as if he tried to fit them all into one monster work. It is a monster, a sprawling work spanning three generations and 60 years. There were times it reminded me of A Hundred Years of Solitude , a New England version. If you are one of those people (like my wife) who doesn't like Irving because of the extreme incidents in his books then you will be glad to know this one is a lot tamer. I hope this is helpful.
John Irving is a treasure and Arthur Morey does the work justice
If you are a fan of John Irving's writing, this should be added to your collection. There are some who would say that Irving reuses his themes (e.g., bears) however, his words and take on humanity brought tears to my eyes.
Beauty in the details
My favorite Irving novel of the 6 I've read. It is methodical yet engaging pace is rare. It isn't shocking or tittilating; it's warm and rich.