Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving

Author John Irving loves words. I love words. He likes to use a wide variety of words. I like to use a wide variety of words. John Irving can make his wide use of words into a novel. I cannot, but I can read. Irving’s latest novel Last Night in Twisted River is a bending, twisting novel – many more twists than the river of that name. The story of the lives of father and son Dominic and Daniel Baciagulupo (a misspelled Italian name) begins in 1954 in a New Hampshire logging camp. Known to most people as the cook and his boy, they live a remote life with logger Ketchum and Injun Jane as their main friends – a life surrounded by the violence of nature and of man, a world of strong language that is authentic in its usage. A devastating accidental shooting death alters their lives completely. They subsequently live in Boston, rural Vermont, Iowa, and the urban Toronto of 2000. Name changes are needed to escape the vengeance of the Coos County, New Hampshire, “deputy”. Each major part of the novel covers several years, but not necessarily in strict chronological order. Told sometimes from the omniscient point of view through Daniel’s (now Danny’s) eyes and sometimes from that of Dominic (later known as Tony), the story is of the love for a father for his child, the love of cooking, and the love of life. Danny becomes a famous author and a single parent. He struggles with his writing while the whole world likes to speculate how much is autobiographical and how much is FICTION in his fiction writing. Both Dominic and Daniel lead interesting love lives. Death is a stalker throughout the novel – sometimes in the form of the “deputy”, sometimes in the form the dreaded and strangely blue Mustang, and sometimes just the vagaries of life. To tell any of the incidents of the novel would spoil the reading for others because every subsequent action in the novel is built on what has gone on before. Many interesting people enter and leave their lives as Danny and Tony travel from one life to another. John Irving is so expressive in his writing, I feel that I can picture the logging camp, Doninic and Daniel, Ketchum, Six-Pack Pam, and most of the other characters in my mind as if I have really met them. I dread the thought of this novel being made into a movie. I would never watch the movie, because it would ruin the book for me. As with his novel The World According to Garp which I found to be very humorous as well as heart-breaking, the movie was a major depressing work to me. Since I’ve taken such a long break from reading Irving, I may have to go back and try The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany. — Anniesse


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