Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving

I’ve been following John Irving’s work for many years now – most people would know him as the author of The World According to Garp or A Prayer for Owen Meaney or perhaps for winning the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for The Cider House Rules (adapted from his own book). I even wrote part of my thesis about his work.

Irving takes his time over new books – three, four, five, six years – so a new one is a treat. Last Night in Twisted River came out last year in hardback, but only recently in paperback. Told with Irving’s usual wry eye and laconic humour, it’s the story of a father and son on the run over several decades. While plot is perhaps very central to the book, for me it’s Irving’s style – his pacing, his deft use of language, his ability to write less than linearly yet still build the book cohesively. My one quibble is the number of typos – as if someone hasn’t even proofread the OCR file before publishing: things like “betwcen” or “Afer” (for “After”) – not a lot, but enough to bump me from the story for a second. Filled with moments of tragedy and moments of laugh out loud humour, this is a book to savour.

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