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Last Night in Twisted River
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Last Night in Twisted River

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3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  19,505 Ratings  ·  2,515 Reviews
In 1954, in the cookhouse of a logging and sawmill settlement in northern New Hampshire, an anxious twelve-year-old boy mistakes the local constable’s girlfriend for a bear. Both the twelve-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 fierce ...more
Hardcover, 554 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Bloomsbury UK (first published 2009)
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Ben
Nov 24, 2009 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Patient appreciators of intense, funny, heartfelt literature; Irving fans.
This is the new John Irving novel and it's something special. I've read a number of the man's novels and I can honestly say that Last Night in Twisted River is like nothing -- not from him, nor from anyone else -- I've read before. If you think Irving may have lost his touch; think again. His heart, his imagination, his ability to tell a creative story with realistic and colorful characters; it's all right here. John Irving has not lost his touch. This is a beautiful, violent, funny, heartbreaki ...more
Julie M
Jul 03, 2010 Julie M rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not John Irving fans
Recommended to Julie by: NY Review of Books
Does anyone else think that this is one of the worst books ever? I mean, not even among Irving's?? Where was the editor?? This had all the marks of a poor first novel, not the twelfth by (what I used to think) a first rate novelist. Cannot believe I slogged through the entire 550 pp; the story could've been told in 250, tops. So much repetition. Telling rather than showing. One dimensional characters. No apparent reasons for their actions at many points. Over-description. We know the bear smells ...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Apr 08, 2014 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of blue-collar workers / wacko realistic-fiction & romance sans ‘the beautiful people”
A ludicrous melodrama as twisted as the title crafted into the believable by a master. Most of all it’s about the consequences of accidents, and dancing… A young boy and his father spend their lives as fugitives (view spoiler) The story revolving around 3 male characters, Daniel the main protagonist, his father Dominic a widower and their friend Ketchum, an old-time logger who’d "blow the ball’s off" anyone who threatens ...more
Chris
I don't have the heart to write much of a review for this one but I'm going to write something since I won this in a giveaway and the point of the giveaway is for people to review the books.

If you're an Irving fanatic, you should find something to love about this book. There are bears everywhere. And death. And violence. There's running and a few passing references to wrestling. There are bogeymen. And nude people. There are characters who are obsessed over the possibility of losing their loved
...more
Benjamin
Jan 20, 2010 Benjamin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am a lifelong fan of John Irving and as such was thrilled to see this book on the shelves. He's not exactly prolific so I look at a new Irving book as a special treat. As B.B. King said, "the thrill is gone." I was quite disappointed in this book. While it was an enjoyable read for the most part, the plot meanders and not a lot actually happens. Ostensibly the story is about people running from their past but only rarely does it come close to catching up to them until the end which you see com ...more
Michael
I loved this one as third best among the seven Irving novels I’ve read so far (after “Garp” and “In One Person”). It satisfied my taste for his blend of absurd tragedy and sentimentality, larger-than-life characters rendered as grittily real, and warm-hearted evocation of places and communities in New England. Worthy themes for me include the impossible task of fathers to protect their sons from the cruel accidents of life and the benefits and negative consequences of a writer treating his own l ...more
G
Nov 20, 2009 G rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Since I saw the film "The World According to Garp" at age eleven I have wondered to myself what exactly did John Irving survive in his past? I have waited patiently for nearly thirty years to find out. I haven't ever read a single thing about John Irving's personal life; because figuring out just what happened to him to make him the type of writer he is has been a huge puzzle for me. Being a survivor of a horrific childhood myself, I knew Mr. Irving must have suffered even more than I had, as hi ...more
Maciek
I have read only one novel by John Irving - The World According to Garp - many years ago, and although I enjoyed it I never read anything else by him - for some inexplicable reason, since Irving writes the sort of fiction that I definitely enjoy: big, long novels with a large cast of characters and several different main players. These stories take years and go through generations, allowing the reader to (ideally) know these people inside and out and care about them - most of all enjoy the novel ...more
Ellen
Jan 11, 2010 Ellen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Oh John Irving, how you've become a parody of yourself. I really like the descriptions of rural settings and of life in Coos County, but then everything goes downhill. Not only is the symbolism blatant, but the book is basically a mash-up of all of Irving's previous works and his life. The protagonist accidentally kills his surrogate mother figure whom he's kind of attracted to by hitting her in the temple! He escapes the Vietnam war on a technicality! Then he moves to Toronto! Then publishes a ...more
caitlin
Nov 30, 2009 caitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Irving did not disappoint. All the familiar touchstones are here - bears, wrestling, New Hampshire prep school, Iowa writer's College, breasts, dead young men, overly-protective fathers - yet it's all new. Irving references himself and his critics throughout the book. The story is a lovely story of 3 men covering 50 years of their lives. The melancholy, for me, came not only from the story, but from the sense I got throughout that Irving was saying goodbye. I hope not - he's possibly my favorite ...more
Ally
Oct 27, 2013 Ally rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's difficult for me to review John Irving objectively, because he is without a doubt the most beautiful author I have ever come across. Last Night does not disappoint, and reminds me why I am such a fan of his work to begin with. It did take me some time to get through - but it was definitely worth it in the end.

I will agree that at times Irving is wordy - and I learned more than I cared to about the logging industry and the technical side of cooking.

This novel, above any other from Irving, d
...more
Amanda
Dec 23, 2009 Amanda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dear John Irving,

The beginning was so good. Soooo good. I was even able to overlook some racial stereotyping and move forward. And that's a rareity. I didn't know if I wanted to take the time to read this whopper of 550 pages. I was ranking your book strictly junior highishly at first. I got to 495 and I just couldn't take it anymore. When did you get so ridiculous Mr. Irving? I used to love you. Your subtle inside jokes. The way the plots and coincidences looped around back on themselves like m
...more
Kathleen
Sep 03, 2009 Kathleen rated it it was amazing
For me, Irving writes books as Beethoven wrote music -- in a minor key. The books are supposedly comedies. They are not to me. They are melancholy reflections on the lives we all lead -- the loves, the misses, the lives, the deaths, the greatest fears, the surprises, the essential ingredients for storytelling -- the bears.
This book hits all the Irving themes. This time he adds homages to the late Kurt Vonnegut, by name, as well as other authors. He adds homages to grammar; he especially honors t
...more
Jacob
November 2009

"In 1954, in the cookhouse of a logging and sawmill settlement in northern New Hampshire, an anxious twelve-year-old boy mistakes the local constable's girlfriend for a bear." And how! John Irving, a writer who doesn't shy away from sudden, violent, and often unusual deaths (and really, how else could a mistaken-for-bear incident end?), certainly lives up to his reputation: on the very first page--first sentence, really--a young Canadian logger hesitates too long; the constable's gi
...more
James
Feb 04, 2011 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Irving is a genius. I state that upfront to make it clear where my review is coming from. No, Last Night in Twisted River is not his finest work. But even coming in at average, Irving outguns almost everyone else out there. And when I consider all the books I have given four stars to that don't even begin to compare to this one, I wish I could add another star on the scale, just to capture my feelings for Irving's greater works (Garp and Owen Meany come to mind).
This book contains all of the tr
...more
Dana Simpson
Feb 04, 2013 Dana Simpson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Irving at his finest since Garp. I reread chapter one 3 times, entranced in the details of the boy's body drifting along the river, then getting wedged in the logs, hanging there as if a part of the tree. Then, as the story unfolds, the references to the twisting river was so amazing, relating the river as a passage of time, mannerism of writing, the taunts life brings, and how the swelling of the river can surface even the ugliest in human soul. When the little boy smashed the Indian woman ...more
Kate
Dec 18, 2009 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love John Irving. I became a writer because of John Irving. That said, Last Night in Twisted River was not his best.

The story of a cook and his son and an angry companion was touching in spots and unrelentingly repetitive in others. As usual, the characters are magnificently drawn, the details chosen with such finesse that it’s impossible to remain unmoved.

Yet the story doesn’t move for long stretches of time and the premise was too fantastical even for Irving. I am willing to suspend my belie
...more
switterbug (Betsey)
A veteran enthusiast of John Irving's novels will yield to this story as a ballad and homage to his entire body of work--sprayed with a mist of Dylan. Readers unfamiliar with Irving may not be impressed--they will have a lot more to complain about. So don't start here if you are largely uninitiated with this author. Begin with his fourth book, the tour de force, The World According to Garp (Modern Library) or his masterpiece, A Prayer for Owen Meany (Modern Library). And then work your way throu ...more
Allison
Mar 20, 2010 Allison rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The story in this book spans five decades, following the lives of a cook, Dominic Baciagalupo, and his 12-year-old son Danny. In the beginning of the story, they are living in a logging and sawmill settlement in northern New Hampshire, and after an accidental killing, they leave abruptly, taking up residence in another state, and always waiting for the day to come that they'd have to flee again. There were times that I was completely engrossed in the story... but there were parts in the middle, ...more
Jess
Dec 02, 2009 Jess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
Oh, John Irving. You have finally, finally run out of new things to say, and so your characters live in this little world where bears run amok, boys go to prep school and wrestle, single-parent households are abundant, disgruntled Vietnam-era young men defect to Canada, women are either buxom with outsized personalities or prematurely dead free-spirited wraiths, and every sage adult has an oft-repeated and italics-laden catch phrase to impart.

And it's such a shame, too, because this is the best
...more
Deborah Edwards
When I heard the riveting title of John Irving’s most recent novel, “Last Night in Twisted River,” and read a few blurbs describing the subject matter and the characters, I just knew in my heart he had finally written another book worthy of being placed next to his early masterpieces on the bookshelf of honor. I just knew I would feel the same rush of excitement I felt when I was introduced to Owen Meany or T.S. Garp, or Dr. Larch or even Susie the Bear, and first entered their strange and revel ...more
Kirsta
Oct 02, 2009 Kirsta rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
You know those people who lick the inside of an Oreo cookie out and then don't eat the chocolate cookies? They might like this book; only the middle was good.

The Sept 2009 goodreads newsletter had an interview with Anita Diamante where she discussed cutting extra words and how she keeps cutting and keeps cutting until she is down to only the essential words in her novels. John Irving needs to hang out with Diamante. The first 200 pages or so were just so dang wordy. Everything had multiple names
...more
Eileen
Feb 27, 2011 Eileen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In his latest book, LAST NIGHT IN TWISTED RIVER, John Irving pays homage to the notion of family and the craft of fiction writing. Through the writer/character of Danny Angel, Irving weaves a story about storytelling; a tongue-in-cheek retrospective of his own work and favorite themes. But mostly, he just tells a great story.

Once again, Irving explores how our “family histories…invade our most basic instincts and inform our deepest memories…“ (page 94) ; how our childhood experiences, and those
...more
Nfmarshall
Jan 26, 2013 Nfmarshall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I cried just a bit when this finished. I think John Irving has a magic, albeit a weird magic sometimes, that can make one a sentimental, sympathetic sap when you plunge into his books. This book was a wonder, full of imagery about the Northern New Hampshire woods, Canada and New England and characters that were rough and tumble and suffering but at the same time very much ones with very clearly likable, fallible, loving and earnest personalities. The book revolves around a father, son, grandson ...more
Mary Rowen
Aug 30, 2012 Mary Rowen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel was published a couple of years ago, but I didn’t get to it until recently, and wanted to give it a plug. I should mention that I’m quite prejudiced here, because I love just about anything John Irving writes, but this is certainly one of his best books.

Much like another of my Irving favorites, A Widow for One Year, Twisted River meanders for a while before the reader figures out that the story will focus primarily on the life of a writer; in this case, Danny Baciagalupo. But Irving c
...more
Aj
Nov 22, 2009 Aj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A new John Irving novel that was released on my half-birthday and was pre-ordered for me by my ever-thoughtful beautiful wifey!

I can understand that Irving is likely to a polarizing writer - either you love him or you don't (but perhaps have enjoyed some of his more popular novels, e.g. Garp & Ciderhouse). But I love him. He is my favorite all-time author. And LNITR was like a warm homecoming to a very familiar place. Like going to you favorite restaurant from your childhood (and this is an
...more
Cheri
Nov 05, 2015 Cheri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
I've read a few Irving novels, though not lately - and not enough of them to have a "sense" of Irving's style. I like his stuff enough that he's on my "read all of his books" list, so this is one more on my checklist of "done."

I liked this book. It's not a perfect novel, and there were some things that irritated me (the narrator asides, the repeated details from one chapter to the next, that sort of thing). The irritants weren't enough to throw me off, though, and Irving hits my sweet spots enou
...more
J.R.
Feb 12, 2010 J.R. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
As an admirer of John Irving I hate having to say I had to push myself to finish this novel. I enjoyed the beginning, but it bogged down in the middle with tedious, repetitive and (dare I say) boring diversions.

Still I kept reading and Irving did reward me with ample portraits of time and place, comic moments and memorable characters. Unfortunately, the whole is marred by too many improbable events, episodes of preaching and violations of the show, don’t tell rule.

The cook and his son both came
...more
hcelvis
Mar 09, 2011 hcelvis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eine tödliche Verwechslung zwingt den zwölfjährigen Daniel, zusammen mit seinem alleinerziehenden Vater Dominic Baciagalupo aus seinem Heimatort Twisted River zu fliehen. Diese Flucht bestimmt nahezu sein ganzes Leben, Vater und Sohn müssen immer wieder fliehen und sich an neuen Orten ein neues Leben aufbauen. Einzige Verbindung nach Twisted River ist ihr Freund Ketchum, ein grobschlächtiger und trinkfester Holzfäller, der die Situation daheim beobachtet und sich für den Koch Dominic und den ang ...more
Lori
Dec 24, 2009 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ARC from Random House

I managed to secure a reviewers copy of this novel when I braved a request for an online Author Q&A session with John Irving through his publishing company, Random House. He was touring to promote the book, the chat session wasn't approved, but the novel was graciously delivered to my doorstep.

As an Irving newbie, I was unsure what to expect from Last Night on Twisted River. The book jacket informs the reader that the novel follows the lives of 3 characters - the cook, h
...more
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JOHN IRVING was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942. His first novel, Setting Free the Bears, was published in 1968, when he was twenty-six. He competed as a wrestler for twenty years, and coached wrestling until he was forty-seven.
Mr. Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times—winning once, in 1980, for his novel The World According to Garp. He received an O. Henry Award
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“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” 94 likes
“If we live long enough, we become caricatures of ourselves.” 31 likes
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