Until I Find You
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Until I Find You

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  17,265 ratings  ·  1,214 reviews
Every major character in Until I Find You has been marked for life- not only William Burns, a church organist who is addicted to being tattooed, but also William's song, Jack, an actor who is shaped as a child by his relationships with older women. And Jack's mother, Alice- a Toronto tattoo artist- has been permanently damaged by William's rejection of her. This is a novel...more
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Published July 1st 2005 by Books on Tape (first published 2005)
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I have very much enjoyed the other novels by John Irving I have read (Garp, Owen Meany, Widow for One Year), but I did NOT in any way enjoy "Until I Find You." All the classic Irving tropes are here (wrestling, prostitutes, New Hampshire, older women, people of small stature), but all are deployed in an absolutely forced, joyless, airless manner. The best thing I can say about this novel is that Irving's prose is typically readable. That is also the ONLY positive thing I can think to say about t...more
Aug 13, 2008 Vendela rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: must-reads
This is the most personal book I have read of Irving's and I am a huge fan. I've read everything save one book, the one that was a very successful movie.

"Until I Find You" is a tough book to get into. The first few chapters are painstaking and seem laborious but you cannot put the book aside. Then in a single moment it becomes essential to know the story, know what happens to this little boy, because you care about him in his over-the-top quirky yet very sad yet oblivous existence.

For an Irvin...more
I have done some scientific research based on reviewers here at Goodreads (ok, so maybe it is not so scientific) and I have a hypothesis on John Irving readership. There are 3 levels:
Level 1 – you love this guy and he can do no wrong. You love him to the point that you have become blind to his faults or are willing to forgive the ones that occur to you – the good outweighs the bad. Every book is a sweet morsel and you are saddened by the thought the someday he will write no more and you are clos...more
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Josh Cutting
Jul 23, 2008 Josh Cutting rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: musicans, tattoo freaks, or any son of split parents
Recommended to Josh by: Persis
This is a case for me of a pure gut/emotional reaction, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

First of all, this book has totally sold me on John Irving. I read "A Prayer for Owen Meany", and had the hardest time getting into it. I really liked about the last hundred pages, but getting there was a chore, to be quite honest.

But this book, this book had me from the first line to the last. And it is directly because of all of the personal parallels. You have the musician (I'm a musician, a pianist actual...more
Nov 09, 2007 Nathan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Irving veterans
I have read 10 of John Irving's books: his first 9, and this one. Clearly, he does something that I keep going back for. Maybe it's no coincidence that I also read all of Dickens' novels in chronological order, back in my twenties. The two are very different -- Dickens is much funnier, for instance -- but they have much in common. It doesn't surprise me to read others' mention of the links between them:

Of the scope, the sheer heft factor of their books, many complain. I like it. It's hard not t...more
May 22, 2007 Brean rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with father issues, people with mother issues, people into tattoos/tatto art/maritime art
What John Irving does best- creates a very detailed history, starting with Jack as a young boy and taking you with him into adulthood. But the childhood portion of this book is told from the perspective of his memory, which will have you having all sorts of bits of nostalgia in relating to the way Jack remembers things and reasons he mis-remembers them. It's especially heartbreaking because as an adult he is searching for his father he never knew, and discovers that some memories he has involve...more
if you're not into john irving or if you've never read him before, i wouldn't start with this one. but if you're an irving lover, definitely go for it.

no matter what the critics say, for me, irving can do no wrong. reading his books actually take me out of my life. i'm running out of ones i haven't read. maybe i'll have to start rrrrerrrreading.

also, irving can always be counted on for good author photos.
Carlos Velez
Jack Burns!

I can't hear the name without the exclamation point in my head. He leads an interesting life. John Irving weaves his childhood, teen years, and adult life into a strange and fascinating tale. Much of what John Irving writes about revolves around sex, especially for Jack Burns. I've read two of Irving's novels, the other being A Widow For One Year and he has a few consistencies. Taboo sex is a major factor in the lives of the main characters, for instance, a middle aged woman and a tee...more
"When he is four years old, Jack travels with his mother Alice, a tattoo artist, to several North Sea ports in search of his father, William Burns. From Copenhagen to Amsterdam, William, a brilliant church organist and profligate womanizer, is always a step ahead – has always just departed in a wave of scandal, with a new tattoo somewhere on his body from a local master or “scratcher.”

Alice and Jack abandon their quest, and Jack is educated at schools in Canada and New England – including, telli...more
Isabella Rodriguez
Interesting story. Way too long. Not my favorite Irving.
I have read many many many John Irving books and this one is unequivocally my favorite. It's also the John Irving book that seems to incite the most vitriol. And I don't know why. It's a simple story about a man, a man searching for his father, and searching for himself. It's a road novel, back and forth and back and forth over Europe and America the mother and son characters move. It's also about the history of tattoos and you get to learn all the nifty language and parlance and colloquialisms...more
I enjoyed the first section of this book, which seems almost like a return to the Irving of 'The World According to Garp' or 'The Hotel New Hampshire', about the young Jack and his tattooist mother wandering through assorted European cities searching for his elusive father. However, I feel the book deteriorates disastrously after that - the writing style seems to go downhill and there is a lot about child abuse which I just didn't want to go on reading.
Help! Some hack has kidnapped John Irving and is publishing novels under his name! As so many, many have said: I've loved John Irving's work for years, but this book is a mess (were there no editors? Or - and here's a scary thought - is this actually the edited version?). Irving is getting up there in years (he was 63 when Until I Find You was published), but one still wouldn't have imagined he'd be capable of writing such a joyless, tic-ridden, self-indulgent, slightly icky-minded shambles of a...more
Chronotope is one of the words coined by language philosophers and philologists to denote a spatial and temporal unity and their co-dependence in the novel. This is a way a literary continuum of a certain novel is defined and categorized. John Irving is one of the names in the world literature whose novels share not only identical chronotopes (the turn of the century and Maine/New Hampshire/ Canada), but his characters are trapped in the well of the same plots and issues: the search of the lost...more
Thom Swennes
Are lives predestined or do people have the choice to determine their futures? Are we bound to follow in the steps of one or both of our parents and have neither the powers nor abilities to change or even influence the ultimate outcome? What our early beliefs are tainted with deceit? Will this have an influence on our eventual futures? These and other questions are asked, explored and sometimes even answered or was Jack the lover his father supposedly was or was it a question of androgyny that c...more
I imagine one's appreciation of Until I Find You will depend in large part on an ability to get through the first couple hundred pages, which mainly consist of a mother and Jack, her four-year-old son, traveling to various Scandinavian churches and tattoo parlors in search of the boy's father. The true story of Jack's father, and how the man's absence ultimately contributed to flaws in the son's character, is the main focus of the book, but holy cow does it take a long time to get there. In the...more
Apr 21, 2012 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: True fans of John Irving

John Irving has a new novel coming out in May, 2012: In One Person. Since I had fallen behind on his releases, I took the plunge on this long novel. The general consensus, according to readers' stars and critics, seems to be that Irving's last two novels were not up to snuff. I disagree.

Granted, it would be hard to top Cider House Rules or A Prayer From Owen Meany. Somehow, ever since I read The World According to Garp about 18 years ago, I have felt a kindred spirit in John Irving. I'm not con...more
"It's better than a sore penis," Jack said. — From "Until I Find You."

Well, maybe not ...

John Irving's longest novel also takes the longest to become interesting — if it ever does; I bailed before getting close to page 820, all ambition sapped from me by this strangely uninvolving work that, by my limited reckoning, never would have been published if submitted by an unknown. While containing familiar Irving elements (don't they all?), there is an utter lack of verve and momentum. It's as though...more
Amanda Patterson
John Irving is an inspirational author and I use many of his books as examples on how to write a good book. A Widow for One Year is in my Top 10 books of all time.

Until I Find You is far from brilliant. It's tedious, self-indulgent and boring.

As much as I like to see authors making money and winning Oscars (The Cider House Rules), I'm not in favour of the power they weild afterwards. No first-time author would be indulged in this way.

Typical John Irving characters. I was hoping for more typical...more
This is only my second John Irving novel, but I can already see he has abandonment issues. And problems with relationships. Of all kinds.

I really liked the first section, describing Jack's childhood memories of his search, with his mother, for the father that abandoned them. But I got bogged down in the middle sections; I didn't like Jack, or his mother, or the girls and women who abused him, or the women and girls he abused. There was very little that was "functional" going on in the relationsh...more
Kathy Tempesta
This book is either the culmination of John Irving's life's work of the result of a bar bet. Those are the only two explanations I can come up with for a book where the protagonist is 4 years old at the start and yet the word "penis" is used at least once on every page. This book really should be called, "I Love My Penis" because that is the driving theme of every chapter.

This should not come as a shock to anyone who has read anything written by John Irving before but the degree of passion for...more
I usually love John Irving, "The World According to Garp" and "A Prayer for Owen Meany" are two of my favorite books ever, and I usually like whatever else he writes. I found this book to be kind of a meandering dud peppered with the some of the least titillating sex scenes ever put to paper. There are some bright spots (though I forget them now, the book is freakin' long), but mainly the whole thing is basically a chronicle of Irving's love affair with his own penis. Sex has always been a major...more
I'm impressed. The writing style is very simple and direct but is still able to convey all the nuances that are essential to this novel. The characters are fully developed. They ought to be, after 820 pages. This thing is thorough. I liked the chronological account of Jack's life combined with the recognition of the mutable nature of memory. Telling the story IS the therapy. It's all about gray area, about perception. There is a fine line between sanity and insanity, between acting and true emot...more
Jun 24, 2008 Laura rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has plenty of time to kill - maybe a prisoner?
What a shame when a decent story idea is mangled by diarrhea writing and non-existent editing. I plowed through all 800-some pages of this book, hoping that Irving would somehow redeem himself in the end. No such luck. It managed to even get worse at the end - quite a feat. This book was a real disappointment, and I give it two stars only because the basic story itself was intriguing; it was the execution of the story that fell far short.
Feb 14, 2008 Billy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who wonder if they are plastic or thinking about that next tattoo.
I have become a big John Irving fan. This one is his longest work, but I swallowed it whole. Irving's ability to make sexual deviancy appear mainstream is heartening to us sexual deviants. This novel got beneath my skin (pun-pun...its main characters are involved one way or another with tattoing). His character development embraces the greatest empathy. His humor is always waiting behind the next corner.
Wow. My friend bought me this book for Christmas 2007 as she felt sorry for taking so long with my copy of A Prayer for Owen Meany, and it took me a year to actually pick up the book and start it. At the beginning, I felt like I'd like the book a lot, but not close to how much I loved Owen Meany... But half-way through, I just couldn't stop reading. It was about five o'clock on a Sunday afternoon when I stopped putting the book down for more than five minutes between chapters (the first 300 or s...more
Jul 29, 2011 Vera is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first experience reading Irving. All I can say is that whereas I find the style of writing very easy to get into and likable, I find the plot horrifying. It's like some kind of accident or wreck- you want to look away but you find yourself unable to do so.

I picked up the book because it said it was the story of how a boy and his mother (a tattoo artist) traveled various North Sea Ports to find his father, a church organist addicted to being tattooed. I went to Newfoundland a few year...more
I would have liked this book more, I think, but I read it wrong. Because the first half of the book is both tedious and horrifying, I should have read it all in one or two long sessions, but instead, because it was tedious and horrifying, I read it 30 pages at a time only a couple of times a week, stopped to read something else, and then finally powered through the last half over the course of a couple of days, and the last half is where the payoff is.

This is the story of Jack Burns, who we mee...more
Well, I must have liked SOMETHING about this book. I just kept reading it & reading it... and it is lo-o-ong! The plot was almost non-existent, every relationship a sordid one, and Irving's digressions could drive me crazy - but I think I was lulled by "being told a long story." I WAS SURE THAT SOMETHING JUST HAD TO HAPPEN!

Actually, some things did happen, and there was more of a "resolution" to Irving's rambling than say those of Tom Robbins', but I would never describe the plot as grippin...more
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John Irving published his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, in 1968. The World According to Garp, which won the National Book Award in 1980, was John Irving’s fourth novel and his first international bestseller; it also became a George Roy Hill film. Tony Richardson wrote and directed the adaptation for the screen of The Hotel New Hampshire (1984). Irving’s novels are now translated into thirty...more
More about John Irving...
A Prayer for Owen Meany The World According to Garp The Cider House Rules The Hotel New Hampshire A Widow for One Year

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“In increments both measurable and not, our childhood is stolen from us -- not always in one momentous event but often in a series of small robberies, which add up to the same loss.” 150 likes
“The desire to never leave your side, the desire to never see you again. The desire to see your face asleep on the pillow beside my face and to see your eyes open in the morning when I lie next to you—just watching you, waiting for you to wake up.” 94 likes
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