Angela's Reviews > Last Night in Twisted River

Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
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's review
May 10, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: given-up-ons
Read from September 25 to October 21, 2010 — I own a copy

** spoiler alert ** edited to say...
Dang. I gave up. And I SO wanted to like this one! I really did, because the premise sounded fantastic and the first 50 pages or so weren't bad at all, the characters were getting interesting, and then it all went downhill *really* fast.

I also have to say I'm finally giving up on John Irving, and won't be buying any more of his books. And I'm saying that as a big fan of his earlier work: `The World According to Garp` (which is on my top ten all-time favorite novels list), `A Prayer for Owen Meany,` and I'm probably one of the few who actually loved `The Fourth Hand,` so it's hard to let him go.

Unfortunately, the big trouble with this novel, and even being familiar with Irving's penchant for sprawling, non-linear narratives, is that it began to read the way a teenager with a short attention span tries to tell you the plot of a movie: "Okay, so Dave and Bill get into really bad trouble and have to like, run away in the middle of the night in their truck, and the truck was really, really cool. I want one like that, only in yellow, not red, and oh, yah, Dave like, *dies* like 10 years later, and Bill's kid who isn't born right now, grows up to be this really disfunctional, but hot looking dude, but I think he dies, too, but that doesn't happen for a long time, and they like go to California and they live there for a while, but in 20 years they move to Arkansas, and Bill's wife dies too, but he hasn't met her yet, and she's got this awesome leather jacket that I totally want and is to die for, only in black not brown, and--"

(none of the characters are named Bob or Bill and they don`t all die, btw) So yah, in other words, after stubbornly persevering through 17 pages on how to cook pizza dough, 27 pages on why a certain character in the novel won't walk down certain streets, 13 pages on the origins of Italian names, and then bang! In only 2 longish paragraphs our main character, who I assume we're supposed to care about, suddenly ages 20 years, gains a wife (the only truly interesting character), a child and a successful career, and then the KID suddenly ages 17 years in only 3 more paragraphs, and... then we`re back to 4 pages of pizza dough, Italian names and what`s playing on the radio. GAH!

I just couldn't take it anymore. I know the story is meant to have been told in retrospect, with the character looking back on his life and reflecting, yadda, but it makes for a supremely frustrating and ultimately uninteresting read, because I, personally, want to read about the characters' lives *as things happen to them* - not in some detached, it`s all over and done with so why do we care now report.

Now, I can't comment on whether or not the end made it all come together as I didn't read it, only skimmed it, but from what I saw... nah. Probably not.

Ah well. This does, however, make me want to go back and read Garp again and remember why I loved it and Irving's old style of writing so much.

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Reading Progress

09/25/2010 page 76
14.0% "So far, this has been very hard to get into - typical Irving rambling in the first 50 pages or so - but it's starting to pick up, and the characters are finally getting interesting and more fleshed out. After abandoning far too many novels lately, I. Will. Not. Give. Up. On. This. One."

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Celine (new)

Celine LOL!!! This review made me laugh - and thats hard to do today so *hugs to Angela*

Angela Aww, hugs back. Love ya!

message 3: by Sam (new)

Sam That's an excellent review! I also haven't read Irving in a while - not since A Widow for One Year - but I wonder, had I read his later stuff first and then gone back and read Owen Meaney and Cider House, would I feel the same way about them. Has his writing really gotten bad or have I just become immune? Same with Stephen King. Had I not read all his brilliant early stuff first, would I disliked The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon or Gerald's Game as much?

Angela Hmm - good question! I know I still would have hated this one had it been my first Irving novel - to me, the narrative is all wrong, and the character development frustratingly non-existent - and would probably never have glanced at another Irving novel again, which would be a shame to miss his early stuff. Stephen King, on the other hand, while I liked some of his new stuff - Bag of Bones, Hearts in Atlantis - his writing 'voice' has simply changed so much that it's no longer in the same league as his earlier brilliant novels like The Stand, It and Salem's Lot.

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