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Until I Find You by John Irving

Until I Find You (2005)

by John Irving

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3,819592,217 (3.5)88
The story of the actor Jack Burns. His mother, Alice, is a Toronto tattoo artist. When Jack is four, he travels with Alice to several North Sea ports; they are trying to find Jack's missing father, William, a church organist who is addicted to being tattooed. But Alice is a mystery, and William can't be found. Even Jack's memories are subject to doubt. Jack Burns goes to schools in Canada and New England, but what shapes him are his relationships with older women. John Irving renders Jack's life as an actor in Hollywood with the same richness of detail and range of emotions he uses to describe the tattoo parlors in those North Sea ports and the reverberating music Jack heard as a child in European churches.… (more)
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English (52)  French (3)  German (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (58)
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
Searching for one's father through the great organists and tattoo parlors of the world. ( )
  Phyllis.Mann | Mar 18, 2020 |
The first two sections – 300-odd pages - were wonderful; classic Irving. The remaining 600 were rambling, flabby, repetitive and, in the case of the last section, plain preposterous. Embarrassing. I can only suppose he’s such a big name that no editor dared say "very nice John; now take it away and lose two-thirds of it". I regret having read it. ( )
  florasuncle | Dec 13, 2019 |
If you like John Irving and aren't too turned off by descriptions of child sex assault of various types (I admit, I nearly had to stop even though I normally love Irving's writing) there is value in reading this. ( )
  ckadams5 | Jun 19, 2019 |
If you like John Irving and aren't too turned off by descriptions of child sex assault of various types (I admit, I nearly had to stop even though I normally love Irving's writing) there is value in reading this. ( )
  ckadams5 | Jun 19, 2019 |
Typical Irving, disturbed, seriously disturbed childhoods, crazy parents, adults trying to understand their childhood (no bears, though!), alternative sex (lots of it), and Vienna. You'll like it if you like John Irving, find it weird if you don't and find it absolutely disgusting unless you're fairly non-judgemental! ( )
  RekhainBC | Feb 15, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
One of the problems with this novel is that Mr. Irving never finds a persuasive voice for narrating these events. The repeated acts of sexual abuse committed upon the prepubescent Jack play neither as awful, realistic acts of abuse nor as metaphorical, Grand Guignol encounters. As a result, the whole book is suffused with a smarmy but cartoonish aura: the reader is unable to sympathize with Jack as a poor abused child or to regard his experiences as some sort of farcical parable about the wicked ways of the world.
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What we, or at any rate what I, refer to confidently as memory -- meaning a moment, a scene, a fact that has been subjected to a fixative and thereby rescued from oblivion -- is really a form of storytelling that goes on continually in the mind and often changes with the telling. Too many conflicting emotional interests are involved for life ever to be wholly acceptable, and possibly it is the work of the storyteller to rearrange things so that they conform to this end. In any case, in talking about the past we lie with every breath we draw.

-- William Maxwell, So Long, See You Tomorrow
For my youngest son, Everett,

who made me feel young again.

With my fervent hope that when you're

old enough to read this story, you will

have had (or still be in the midst of)

an ideal childhood -- as different from

the one described here as anyone

could imagine.
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According to his mother, Jack Burns was an actor before he was an actor, but Jack's most vivid memories of childhood were those moments when he felt compelled to hold his mother's hand.
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