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Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving

Last Night in Twisted River (2009)

by John Irving

Other authors: Halvor Kristiansen (Translator)

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Showing 1-5 of 101 (next | show all)
I tried this years ago but I'm glad I gave it another shot. Vintage Irving...elaborate plot, lots of crazy characters. Wonderful last chapter. ( )
  bearette24 | Nov 26, 2015 |
I've read a few Irving novels, though not lately - and not enough of them to have a "sense" of Irving's style. I like his stuff enough that he's on my "read all of his books" list, so this is one more on my checklist of "done."

I liked this book. It's not a perfect novel, and there were some things that irritated me (the narrator asides, the repeated details from one chapter to the next, that sort of thing). The irritants weren't enough to throw me off, though, and Irving hits my sweet spots enough to warrant the four stars.

I love how Irving crafts characters. Ketchum is marvelous, and I have to say I really dig Six Pack Pam. He does "rough" in a manner that is in on way disrespectful. I love that his backwoods people are every bit as (or, really, more than) wise as the others. Danny is fine, as is Dominic, but really - it's Ketchum who rules this novel. I don't know that I'd want him as an uncle, though... Ketchum isn't big on niceties, and I'm not sure I'd dig having Ketchum telling me all the ways that I'm doing it wrong.

I may enjoy hearing "Constipated Christ!" at emphatic moments of my day, though.

The arc of this novel is odd to me. It's like the novel is about Ketchum, even though it actually follows Danny from age 12 to 60. And at the end, when Irving does his writerly reveal, I found myself spinning a bit. I do not mean that it's a bad ending; I was pretty satisfied when I finished the last page. It's just that... I don't know. It's a thinker.

I liked the afterward, too. Irving talks a bit about his writing process, so of course that's a little dessert on top of the meal. ( )
  ThePortPorts | Nov 4, 2015 |
Another sprawling, epic novel by John Irving. I haven't read one in a long time. This one tells the story of Dominic, the cook at a logging camp, and his son Daniel, who grows up to be an author. Irving frequently refers to them as the Cook and the Writer. After an accidental murder at the camp, the father and son are forced to flee and the novel follows them throughout their lives from Boston's North End to Iowa City to Brattleboro, VT and finally to Toronto. All through this time they keep in touch with the gruff logger Ketchum, who looks out for their pursuer. Along the way there are common Irving themes of coming of age, sexuality, unhappy relationships, and unpleasant people. Daniel's life as an author strongly parallels Irvings, and Irving seems to be trolling his readers to make one think that this is autobiographical. But there's also a lot of insight into creativity and the writing process as well. Despite being the putative central character, Daniel isn't particularly interesting or well-defined (perhaps purposefully). Dominic and Ketchum and various minor characters provide a number of entertaining scenes and tangents. Overall this is an enjoyable novel, but like many of Irving's works could deal with some heavy pruning and more of a sense of purpose. ( )
  Othemts | Oct 5, 2015 |
This is a generational novel that tracks the impact of one foolish accident in the life of a man and his young son. Dominic is the cook for a logging camp. His young son Danny has grown up surrounded by food and stories about his deceased mother.

One night Danny is awakened by the sound of his father and one of the kitchen staff making love. Misunderstanding the situation, Danny thinks his father is being attacked and strikes the woman with a cast iron pan. The accidental death of the kitchen dish-washer will send the two men into hiding for decades. The truth of what happens at twisted river will haunt them, while it simultaneously shapes their lives in ways as yet unanticipated. ( )
  Juva | Apr 7, 2015 |
Bears make it into the story naturally, but the book drags on and on. It's also a novel about a novelist writing a novel and reflecting on how auto-biographical bits are transformed to appear in novels. Of course there are parallels between the protagonist and Irving's life -- all this self-reference is too clever by half. ( )
  Tacoma.Red | Mar 1, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 101 (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 editionsconfirmed
Kristiansen, HalvorTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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"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
"For Everett-my pioneer, my hero"
First words
"The young Canadian, who could not have been more than fifteen, had hesitated too long."
Constipated Christ!
Don't get your balls crossed.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Une mustang bleue fantôme bleue , un chien héroïque , une ange atterrie dans la fange : le chef Irving nous réserve toutes les surprises de son art consommés dans un roman qui se dévore et se déguste jusqu'à la dernière page . Bombe glacée pour tout le monde au dessert .

In 1954, in the cookhouse of a logging and sawmill settlement in New Hampshire, an anxious twelve-year-old boy mistakes the local constable's girlfriend for a bear.  Both the boy and his father become fugitives, forced to run from Coos County--to Boston, to southern Vermont, to Toronto--while pursued by the implacable constable.  Their lone protector is a fiercly libertarian logger who befriends them.

In a story spanning five decades, Last Night in Twisted River depicts the recent half-century in the United States as "a living replica of Coos County, where lethal hatreds were generally permitted to run their course."
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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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