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Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
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Last Night in Twisted River (2009)

by John Irving

Other authors: Halvor Kristiansen (Translator)

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2,5931283,699 (3.76)128
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 fiercely libertarian logger, once a river driver, who befriends them. A tale that spans five decades.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
If you like John Irving, you will find this novel touches familiar territory. It's full of his trademark bears, freak accidents, and general craziness. The man has almost too much imagination, and I think this book could have benefited from a smaller cast of minor characters, but as the story flows, it carries the reader on as relentlessly as the Twisted River carried logs in the heydey of the timber industry in New England. Once in a while, it also ducks the reader under, or spins you frustratingly around in a whirlpool for a bit, before pushing you out and on around the next bend. Some elements were distracting to me, there were one or two instances of foreshadowing that came to nothing, and I struggled with my disbelief some of the time. (Irving does have the ability to make me accept some pretty fantastical stuff, but here, he lost his grip on me a time or two.) But after failing to "get into" the last two Irvings I attempted (Son of the Circus and The Fourth Hand), I was happy to recognize once more the genius of the man who wrote A Prayer for Owen Meany and The Cider House Rules in this one. I may give it another read one of these days, because I suspect it will reward a second go-'round. ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Jan 30, 2020 |
While I am impressed by Irving's skill in developing characters and story lines, I find myself becoming increasingly disappointed by his tendency to repeat himself. Although he is a good writer, he does not branch out into new territory. ( )
  TSBresser | Dec 29, 2019 |
So this has been on my to-read list for six years!! I’m giving it a go; it’s a long one for summertime but if not now...... ( )
  LizBurkhart | Sep 5, 2019 |
Classic Irving, however it seems he has now reached the point in an author's career where no editor dares to edit him! Wonderful characters, but 1/3 too long. Ridiculously rambling with totally irrelevant details. Don't try to skim however, because Irving drops major clues and plot changers in the middle of needless paragraphs describing cooking procedures or how to smoke a bear (!). You have to read it all! Good thing the other 2/3 are brilliant. ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
This book is going on my all-time-faves list. Not only is Irving's language exquisite and his characters well-developed, the settings and plot vibrate with humanity and life. There are many little touches for the Irving fan, and the passages about Danny Baciagalupo's writing process will delight any lover of language and the creative process. A must-read; it is quintessential Irving (and you have been warned). ( )
  cindiann | May 3, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
The coy hints of connections between the author and the narrator have been forced onto a plot that can’t accommodate them, and the fact that Danny is a famous novelist too often seems a mere contrivance, giving Irving a convenient opportunity to include rambling background information and to air his own ideas about writing. In his bid to make something “serious,” Irving has risked distracting readers from what otherwise could be a moving, cohesive story.
 
I thought I was heading for another “The Cider House Rules,” my personal favorite of his novels. But the full reading experience ended up being more like “A Widow for One Year,” where one outstanding section has to carry the weight of the whole book. And at 554 pages, that’s a lot to carry.
 
Irving playfully invents a story that’s as much about the pleasures of reading one of his novels as it is anything else, until it poignantly turns into a paean for a dying art and a plea for the idea of the story. This could all seem self-indulgent. Instead, it’s Irving’s best since the ’80s.
 
Irving's story is engrossing, and he gives us a satisfying assortment of fully realized characters: Carl, a cruel, ignorant police officer; Ketchum, a hard-drinking, violent logger who devotes himself to protecting the cook and his son and whose favorite exclamation is “Constipated Christ!”; Six-Pack Pam, whose name pretty much says it all; and Lady Sky, the aforementioned parachutist, who becomes the love of the cook's son's life.
 
Mr. Irving uses coincidences, cliffhanger chapter endings and other 19th-century novelistic devices to hook the reader, while at the same time orchestrating them to underscore the improbable, random nature of real life. Some of his inventions — like a murderous blue car that appears to have zeroed in on Danny’s son — are ludicrous at first glance, but the reader gradually comes to understand that they are writerly metaphors for the precarious nature of life in “a world of accidents.”
 

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Irvingprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kristiansen, HalvorTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"I had a job in the great north woods/ Working as a cook for a spell/ But I never did like it all that much/ And one day the ax just fell" -Bob Dylan, "Tangled Up in Blue
Dedication
"For Everett-my pioneer, my hero"
First words
"The young Canadian, who could not have been more than fifteen, had hesitated too long."
Quotations
Constipated Christ!
Don't get your balls crossed.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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