Ever 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 exactly what [...]
Ever 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 exactly what happened to him to make him the type of writer he is has been a huge puzzle for me that I must figure out on my own. Being a survivor of a horrific childhood myself, I knew Mr. Irving must have suffered even more than I had, as his stories are so twisted and dark.
With “Last Night in Twisted River: A Novel” I think I have finally figured out the puzzle of Mr. Irving. While “A Prayer for Owen Meany” will always remain my favorite book of his, Twisted River is a close second. For whatever reason, I’ve convinced myself that this book is the true story of his life, or the true life story of someone very close to him, perhaps his own grandfather. If it isn’t, then call me a fool, but please realize that whether this novel is a memoir or not, “Last Night in Twisted River” remains a brilliant story of father and son and grandson, and the fifty year long friendship they have with a mysterious logger. Danny Angel, the protagonist of Twisted River is a writer in this novel and his own writing career mirrors the career of John Irving, and we read about Danny attending the Iowa Writers Workshop during the same time frame as Mr. Irving actually did. Danny was even taught by John’s own most famous teacher Kurt Vonnegut. I have always wondered why Mr. Irving writes about the subjects he has always written about, such as widows, Canada, wrestling, motherless and fatherless children, left hands, bears, and even abortion and all of these subjects get a curious mention in his latest book.
Twisted River is the kind of Charles Dickensesque type of story Mr. Irving has written before, and this time around he manages to capture the small New Hampshire logging town of Twisted River beautifully, beginning with the drowning of a young boy named Angel and the failure of the mysterious Mr. Ketcham to catch him before he was lost under the logs forever. Dominic and his son Daniel (Danny Angel) are friends with the logger Mr. Ketcham, and certain terrible events cause them to go on the run together over and over again throughout their lives leaving loved ones and good Italian restaurants behind. What I find most fascinating about this book is that Daniel grows up to be a famous writer and has a long successful career before he settles down to write Twisted River, the very novel we as readers have been reading the entire time.
Last Night in Twisted River: A Novel is defiantly the best book I’ve read in 2009. I stayed up until 5:15 am to finish it. I’ve spent more than evening staying up all night reading this book, as well as many other of Mr. Irving’s books. I once worked an eight hour shift, drove a twelve hour road trip, visited and drank with a friend all night long, then sat down and finished The Hotel New Hampshire in one sitting after all of this and finished in time for my friend to catch me still awake after having one of the longest thirty days in my life. John Irving is just that good of a writer. All I can tell you is that Twisted River is fabulous and you need to go buy this book immediately to find out for yourself just how good it truly is. I promise you will be lost in a world like none other. If you have already purchased it for yourself, then go buy it for a friend, because books make the best Christmas gifts. A story like this stays with someone forever, while that sweater may only last two or three seasons.
John Irving’s Work
- Setting Free the Bears – 1968
- The Water-Method Man – 1972
- The 158-Pound Marriage – 1974
- The World According to Garp – 1978
- The Hotel New Hampshire – 1981
- The Cider House Rules – 1985
- A Prayer for Owen Meany – 1989
- Trying to Save Piggy Sneed - 1993
- A Son of the Circus – 1994
- The Imaginary Girlfriend - 1996
- A Widow for One Year – 1998
- My Movie Business - 1999
- The Cider House Rules: A Screenplay – 1999 (Academy-Award winning screenplay)
- The Fourth Hand – 2001
- A Sound Like Someone Trying Not to Make a Sound – 2004
- Until I Find You – 2005
- Last Night in Twisted River – 2009
John Irving’s website can be found here.
You can purchase Twisted River here.
And see John talk about his latest book below.