Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Summer Reading - Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving

Last Night in Twisted River
a novel
John Irving
paperback, 592 pages

If you have ever looked at my profile you will know that I am a huge John Irving fan. He is by far my favourite author and I would have trouble even deciding who would be in the number two position after him.
I was very excited when his latest book came out in paperback and intrigued by its seemingly different nature compared with his other novels.
Last Night in Twisted River starts off over fifty years back in a small New England logging camp, rough and rustic and dangerous with a wild west sort of logic and law. A lamed cook and his young son act as caretakers for a motley bunch of hard working men and women until one night when the 12 year old son mistakes a local woman for a bear and kills her with a cast iron skillet.
Forever having to look over their shoulders for the violent deputy sheriff who considered her his own, this is the life of two fugitives and the story of how the seemingly random events of life shape a man. More to the point: how they shape a writer.
It is an un-biography. The story of the life that John Irving did not live, of hard times and bad luck, which ultimately shape the young man's writing style and career. Irving's own friends and influences make cameos in the book and so many references are made to elements of his other novels that you feel like you are part of an inside joke; a secret club for John Irving fans. Which does make me wonder what it would be like for someone who has never read John Irving books before.
Irving artfully weaves the fantastic, the awkward, and the absurd in his own voice and style, creating an epic novel in which every sentence is vitally connected to another part of the book.
The book got mixed reviews, and I can understand why, but I find it to be pure Irving and likely the most personal of his books.
I am very happy to have read Last Night in Twisted River. If you are a John Irving fan or would like to become one - I would definitely recommend that you add it to your summer reading list.