Saturday, March 20, 2010


Pages: 554
Date: 20/03/2010
Grade: 4+

It has been years since I last read a book by John Irving, and I can't remember too much about them. This means that I'm not sure whether or not Irving always writes his books with this detachment to events and characters, or if that is unique to this book. I think that he always had a way of describing extra-ordinary events in such a way that the reader just accepts them, but I'm not entirely sure. Just as I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that detachment in this particular book. I think I would have liked to have a little bit more emotion in the writing, because the storyline does cover some devasting events, and I never got to feel that devastation. In this book the reader is very much a spectator and never feels like a participant.
The story in this book covers more than 50 years, starting in a logging community in Twisted River, New Hampshire in 1954 and ending in Ontario, Canada in 2005. During this time it follows three men, Dominic Baciagalupo, the cook, his son Daniel and their friend and self-appointed protector Ketchum.
Events are set in motion when twelve year old Daniel mistakes the girlfriend of the local constable for a bear and kills her with a skillet.
Afraid of what the not entirely sane constable might do, Dominic and his son flee Twisted River and with that act starts a decades long existance of looking over their shoulders and trying to stay ahead of the vengeful policeman, who never gives up his hunt.
Staying in New Hampshire is their good friend Ketchum who tries to keep them safe by keeping an eye on the constable.
Daniel grows up to be a famous author and it is through the descriptions of his novels as well as through the actual story in this book that the reader keeps track of the events in the lives of the main characters.
Because Daniel is an author some of the book occupies itself with the art of writing and the processes Daniel uses to write his books. And it is interesting to know that, according to an interview with Irving I read recently, Daniel's way of starting with the last sentence of a book, is the one Irving himself uses. It also deals with questions like how much of the stories authors tell is autobiographical and with the way the rest of the world looks at books.
Even now that I've finished the book I'm not sure how I feel about the detached way in which Irving describes events in his characters life, regardless of how heartbreaking they may be.
What I do know though is that this was an intriguing and well written book with a story that will stay with me for a long time. I also now feel the need to find a copy of THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP and re-read it sometime soon.

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