21 hours ago
Sunday, May 09, 2010
Review: Last Night in Twisted River
Like all Irving novels, this one is set in New England, features wrestling, writing, running, Exeter academy, and single parent families. However, unlike most Irving stories, this one features a boy and his father. Irving's writing is maturing, too, so we see some softer edges than we're used to, as well as a story that is tied up a little too tightly at the end. But he creates a compelling lead character and several brilliant, quirky, secondary characters that propel the plot. I enjoyed the novel - it's better than some of his works, but not as good as his best stuff (The World According to Garp, A Widow For One Year, Until I Find You). At this point, Irving can only be compared to himself, as he's created a voice like no other in literature. It's an all-or-nothing style, and those who like him, like him a lot.
Another compelling aspect of the novel was the depth of detail he reaches. Much like the art of tattooing in Until I Find You, Irving ensures that his details are right, lending a credibility to the narrator's voice that might not have been there otherwise. I feel that I could survive in a mid-century logging camp thanks to the information garnered from this novel. Also, he discussed the towns of Vermont and New Hampshire with such admiration that when driving through Vermont earlier this year, I couldn't help but make a stop in Brattleboro just to see it.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. As Irving is my favourite author, it seems without question, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up liking it. So, the update on my Irving Top Ten List is as follows:
1. The World According to Garp (1978)
2. Until I Find You (2005)
3. A Widow For One Year (1998)
4. Last Night In Twisted River (2009)
5. Setting Free The Bears (1968)
6. Hotel New Hampshire (1981)
7. A Prayer For Owen Meany (1988)
8. The Fourth Hand (2001)
9. The Water-Method Man (1972)
10. The Cider House Rules* (1985)
*It's at #10 because I haven't read it yet. However, based on the quality of the movie, I am assuming that it will be in my top ten.
Last Night In Twisted River gets four pizza places out of five.