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Last Night in Twisted River: A Novel by John…

Last Night in Twisted River: A Novel (original 2009; edition 2010)

by John Irving

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Title:Last Night in Twisted River: A Novel
Authors:John Irving
Info:Ballantine Books (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 592 pages

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Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving (2009)

2010 (16) American (18) American literature (18) ARC (16) bears (10) Boston (10) Canada (18) cooking (17) ebook (12) family (27) fathers and sons (24) fiction (232) first edition (11) fugitives (23) Kindle (14) literature (20) loggers (10) logging (28) New England (30) New Hampshire (28) novel (42) read (13) read in 2009 (13) read in 2010 (16) Roman (18) to-read (43) unread (10) USA (12) writers (13) writing (12)

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Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
My only problem with John Irving novels is that nothing will ever be as good as A Prayer for Owen Meany. This was good. The characters were developed deeply and thoroughly, but the end left something to be desired. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
This was not the fast paced adventure/suspense novel that I was expecting. ( )
  Kraga | Mar 17, 2014 |
Okay... I gave this three stars, not because in is an average book. but because it is a very bad book wrapped in a very good book (or perhaps the other way around.)

I love John Irving, even the lesser works, so I expect things to be self-referntial and even self-indulgent. Actually if I were to read a John Irving book without bears, adolescents having sex with older women, abortions, wrestling, and East Coast boarding schools I expect I would be very disappointed. But this book is so clunky. Irving tries to do way too much. He brings in too many characters, too many themes, and writes characters he doesn't know. (Ketchum, wow, what an ass -- an illiterate logger who quotes Kafka. Ugh!). Then there are the cutsie writerisms. When Daniel is at his peak in his writing he is always called "The Writer Danny Angel." Every time. When Danny isn't productive he is just "Daniel." Ketchum is generally identified as "The Log Driver", or the "Former Log Driver," Dominic (or Tony) is "Cookie." I get that he is defining a man by what he does rather than by his name, but give it a freaking rest! The women are all ciphers, Rosie, Carmela, Six-Pack Pam are no more than catalysts. This is even more true of the women here than those in other Irving books, and that is a pretty high (or low) standard. Also there are the inconsistencies. Long passages on how Dominic and Ketchum get to a point where they no longer miss Rosie are inconsistent with Ketchum's ongoing desire to cut off his hand (which has a lot to do with Rosie). The healing power of children theme is incosistent with the rejection of a plan to have further children when healing is needed most. The blue Mustang and Lady Sky bits of magical realism are flat-out idiotic and poorly integrated. The core story though is good, and the characters of Dominic and Danny are good ones. And I like the Father-Son aspect a great deal. This could have been so good. As Ketchum would say (and does say over and over and over again), "piles of moose-shit Danny!" ( )
  Narshkite | Mar 10, 2014 |
I was extremely pleased that I finally got around to reading this novel. I bought it when it first came out, mostly because John Irving was doing a signing and giving a reading. But then I failed to dive into it immediately, and it took up residence on my shelves for a while, squeezed in next to his earlier books that I had read and adored.

Then I took a couple of detours, going back to an early book, The Water-Method Man, and then reading a more recent but slighter novel, The Fourth Hand. I enjoyed both because they were Irving, but that put me a great distance from The World According to Garp, The Hotel New Hampshire, A Prayer for Owen Meany, and The Cider House Rules, all of which cemented my apparently lifelong infatuation with John Irving's writing. Oh, and somewhere in there I had made it through A Son of the Circus, but its characters and landscape had felt like a strange detour. I missed the the strange sons of New England through whom I had been living vicariously.

So I was glad to return to more familiar territory and characters, and I found the stories of paternal bonds, lost children, and decades spent evading inevitable confrontations oddly comforting. It seemed at times as if Irving's preoccupations were converging with my own, or else they had been there all along in his work, and they had been instilled in me at a relatively young age, growing over the years into a more mature, familiar form.

Whatever the case may be, it hardly matters now. I can't very well change my worldview, and it's clear that Irving has been articulating a clearer version of his own through his many novels. I might have found some details over which to quibble, and if I had, I might not be giving the book top marks. But Last Night in Twisted River did just what it was supposed to do, and more besides. It told a compelling story with characters I came to care about very much. It also explored the life of a writer, and I'm frankly just a sucker for that, thanks in no small part to Garp. So I can't in good conscience award the book any demerits when it restored my belief in John Irving's powers of imagination and craftsmanship. ( )
  phredfrancis | Feb 8, 2014 |
Link to Review: http://taylorsawesomebookreviews.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/book-review-last-night...
Review's text:
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Danny at a young age commits an unforgivable crime which forces him and his dad to go on the run. Not only does Danny have to grow up with his guilt, but also with the fear that someone will recognize him. Years later his past catches up to him in all of the worst ways.

(From my Education class reading log:)

I enjoyed this book a great deal. It did take me a while to read through this and I think it might be too intense for most adolescent readers. I included it though because there might be a student who is ready to tackle this book.

View all my reviews

What I Want to Add:

I read this for a college class. There was a lot of information within the book and I remember having trouble staying focused in the later chapters. However, the beginning was really good!! I’d love to reread this book sometime!


Here’s what I wrote in my blog about this book **MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**:

Carl is the only character that I dislike to a great extent. However, since his purpose for the story is to be the bad guy, I suppose this is a given thing. I also noticed that his character did not actually stick out much to me. I mean, yes I knew and realized that he was a jerk, but I could not describe him to any great extent if asked. I am not sure if this is because Irving did not expand on this character much or if it is because I tend to not focus on characters that I dislike.
Ketchum is the one character that I love to read on paper, but I think I would dislike him a great deal in real life. Ketchum is supposed to be this really gruff guy who actually cares a great deal on the inside. Maybe it is because I have not met anyone like this that I find Ketchum a little difficult to deal with. (Though I do like the mental image of his walking through Boston with his gun…) Though if I were to actually meet Ketch (before the hand incident) I would probably deal with him, but not go out of my way to talk with him.
I felt equally attached to Danny, Dominic, and Joe. I wanted to things to work out for all three of them that I tended to try to avoid the sections where they suffered. I found myself highly upset about the deaths of the individuals on this list. Actually it even went as far as I sat the book down and did not look at it for the rest of the evening. However, given how catchy the story was, I found myself letting go about their deaths. That does not mean that I no longer cared about their passing, but I understood that it was somehow necessary for things to continue the way that they did.
I became annoyed when it seemed that the story was going to move into some type of political debate. The story had been mostly following a straight path (or at least had a central theme occurring) until the 9/11 attack. Then it felt that I was submerged into some sort of political story. it reminded me of when I read The Jungle. From what I remember (it has been three years since I have read that book) the story went from this terrible tale of a family who pretty much cannot catch a break to political talk. I find myself bored with politics, so when this occurred in The Jungle, I was very upset. And now it seemed likeLast Night in Twisted River was taking the same sort of turn. Danny left the US because he and his father were running from Carl; or at least that is what I thought. It seems like it was because the public wanted to know why Danny left America that he started in on talking about politics. And then when 9/11 happened in the story, of course politics were up-in-arms again. However, after reading a bit farther from when the attack happened in the book, I am happy to see that it has moved back into the flow of the story.
I was also very upset about Lady Sky. Sure, at first when she came out of the plane completely naked, I had my doubts about her. However – she had such an influence on Danny and Joe that I kept wishing that she would come back. Even when I knew Six Pack was the girl at the restaurant’s backdoor, I still became as excited as Danny – thinking that it would be Lady Sky. For some reason this woman left me heartbroken for Danny. The whole letter incident annoyed me to no end – but I think that’s fair (to and extent):
- Ooopps, I accidently killed your lover while you two were having sex
In exchange for
- Ooopps, I accidently threw out the letter of someone that you could have been in love with
Or at least that is as fair as things could have been. It’s not like either of them had intended to ruin the others’ life… It just kind of happens.
There was a great deal of foreshadowing in the story. A lot of the time I did not realize that something was foreshadowing until the foreshadowed event occurred (which I guess is kind of the point, eh?). Sometimes there seemed to be useless backstories that wound up being key to understanding how a character reacted, etc. to an event (THAT’S THE WRONG HAND!).
Overall, I enjoyed this book a great deal. I would recommend it to those who enjoy an in-depth story that has outrageous events that work together so that the overall story seems realistic (specific enough?). Irving’s novel is now on my list of very enjoyable reads! : )
I would recommend this book for anyone about the high school level. While I am sure many high school students could read and understand this book, I doubt they would appreciate it completely. (I could be wrong though, of course).
My rating: 5/5 stars
Have questions, requests, etc? Then feel free to e-mail me at taylorreadingblog23@yahoo.com ( )
  taylor.troncin | Aug 8, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 89 (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"
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"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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Book description
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)

(summary from another edition)

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