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Last Night in Twisted River

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  24,505 ratings  ·  2,896 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 27th 2009 by Random House (first published 2009)
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J Pierre I agree with Stephanie.

Anyone else notice the Hemingway connection? He killed himself in Ketchum, Idaho.…more
I agree with Stephanie.

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Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  24,505 ratings  ·  2,896 reviews

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Oct 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Elyse  Walters
Nov 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Update: This is $2.99 Kindle special today...
personally I think it’s one of John Irving’s best ...
I just notice my old review. A sentence!!!
Life was so much more simple here on Goodreads back then.... perhaps I should take a lesson.

This story was great from the first page to the last sentence of the book. I loved it!

I'm just waiting for John Irving's NEW RELEASE! :)
Julie M
Dec 18, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Sep 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Dec 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
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
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I had such high hopes for this book. I thought to myself in the beginning.... "Hey, John Irving is finally BACK as a great American writer!" Unfortunately, little by little, the wheels started to come off the bus, and I found myself trudging through another story that was growing more tedious and dull with every page. The characters that started out so promising, evolved into flat, lifeless souls. And why does Irving always have to throw the sport of wrestling into the mix??? Sadly, John Irving ...more
Sep 07, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Jan 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 23, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
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
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Irving keeps writing the same story over and over again, albeit mixing up the characters and the situations, and though I was looking for the “three-peat” to top Garp and Owen Meany, I didn’t find it in this over-written novel.

One could argue that this is Irving’s autobiographical novel, for the protagonist, Daniel Baciagalupo, alias Danny Angel (there are a lot of nom-de-plumes in this book as much as there are parenthetical explanations, like this one, within sentences—an Irving hallmark), a f
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Last Night In Twisted River has all the ingredients one expects in a John Irving novel. There are quirky characters, several coming of age, (sexual), stories; a non-traditional, bordering on, dysfunctional family; tragedy and violence, (similar to the author’s previous books, this mayhem borders on the cartoonish or even Three Stooge-ish); there is dark humor and a lot of not so subtle foreshadowing. And oh - there are even a few bear stories.

What’s missing here – at least to this reader - is e
John Irving is one of my favorite authors. And why? Because his characters are likeable and sometimes struggling and Irving compels the reader to want those characters to succeed.

In this review I want to concentrate on the characters. I bonded with each of them EXCEPT The Cowboy. Ketchum was kind of hard to bond with too. ;-)

But first, a short synopsis of the plot:
Last Night in Twisted River is a 2009 novel by American writer John Irving, his 12th. The novel spans five decades and is about a boy
Feb 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 550-to-599-pages
The first part of this book is engaging and interesting. The characters are overly colorful, and the story - though not necessarily believable - moves along at a great pace. Once they leave Twisted River, however, the story seems to blow up in size, and in all different directions. Some parts are in the present time, some are in the past, and others are in the future, making it difficult to follow. I also felt he unnecessarily detoured into politics. All in all, the novel became tedious after aw ...more
Deborah Edwards
Oct 22, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Ana Lopes Miura
Oct 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
I think most people would agree hat Irving is the contemporary Dickens. His writing belongs to the ¨more is more¨ school of writing, as he himself has stated in numerous interviews. Colorful characters (social outcasts, prostitutes with a heart of gold, ORPHANS), great coincidences,and endless descriptions of, well, everything, abound in his body of work.
As is the case with Dickens, Irving is a love him or hate him author. I simply have never encountered a reader who is indifferent to his book
Dec 18, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Alex O'Brien
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, fiction, literary
If you're a fan of John Irving, there's a good chance you'll love this book: it's filled with his favourite motifs and themes-bears, wrestling, flatulent dogs, severed body parts, outsiders, and long digressions. I particularly enjoyed the first section which deals with the lumberjack life in Northern New Hampshire. As a writer, I was also fascinated by one character's reflections on writing and the writing life-there is a wealth of wisdom to be learned here. This character's career mirrors Irvi ...more
Dana Simpson
Dec 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Mary Rowen
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5000-books-2020
"~He'd lost so much that was dear to him, but Danny knew how stories were marvels-how they simply couldn't be stopped.
He felt that the great adventure of his life was just beginning-as his father must have felt, in the throes & dire circumstances of his last night in Twisted River. ~"
Page 554
The first sentence written, is always the last sentence,
in every John Irving novel.
I began this book in 2009 on October 31st.
I opened it up, as I sat bedside at Baptist Hospital/Nassau.
I was so happy, be
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John Irving's, Last Night in Twisted River 2 54 Nov 01, 2009 02:03PM  

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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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For 12 novels the last sentence has come first, and not even the punctuation has changed. From that last sentence I make my way in reverse through...
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