Book Review: Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
November 5, 2010
“Last Night in Twisted River” was my first John Irving novel and the word “operatic” comes to mind. Even though this novel is long, the plot is tight and interesting. I never thought I’d read a novel which has a tight plot, but still manages to ramble on and on as well as keep my interest – but there you have it.
This is one of those books that I, personally, really like. The book is polished (but not overdone), the characters are very engaging and each one, even the minor ones, has their own history full of prose as well as many insights into parenthood and the joys and pains that come with it.
The story moves back and forth in time, despite Irving’s weird sex scenes, violent actions and some funny (and not so funny) deaths, the plot revolves around Daniel becoming a writer and gives Mr. Irving the opportunity to take out his ire on “dimwitted” book reviewers and sensationalist media, which I thought was hilarious given the context.
The premise of the novel seems, at least to me, is the making of a writer. Daniel Baciagalupo and his father flee a 1950’s New Hampshire logging town after Daniel accidentally killed his father’s lover. On the run the Baciagalupo rediscover their Boston roots and spend a large part of the novel dodging a vengeful and crazy New Hampshire sheriff.
After attending some very exclusive schools, Daniel becomes a successful writer, has a son and keeps in touch with Ketchum, an extinct species of Americans who embodies New Hampshire’s motto of “Live Free or Die”. Ketchum manages to rant against everyone and anyone, the hippies, Catholics, conservatives and liberals; ironically the embodiment of extreme libertarian hates all other extremes – yet, in my opinion, his character is the glue that holds the story together.
I love John Irving. A Widow For One Year is one of my favorite books. I’ve read most of his books and they’re all good in a weird and interesting way. A Prayer for Owen Meaney was good, they made that into a movie like Hotel New Hampshire and The Cider House Rules, but I remember liking that movie so much more for some reason.
Thanks Autumn, I think I must pick up all the John Irving books. Many people tell how good they all are and if they are better than Last Night in Twisted River I’m sure I’ll enjoy them.
Operatic? I meant to ask you about this before. How so?
Hi Evelyn, I like operas, I think this book was operatic because of the grand, sweeping story that spanned generations.
Sorry, pressed the wrong button too fast. Thank you for sharing and I like that you and Autumn spoke of this author’s popularity.