In John Irving’s twelfth novel, the Twisted River of the title is a small logging and sawmill settlement in New Hampshire. Irving begins the book with a drowning and a death and then spends the next twenty pages with an in-depth history of the logging industry; finally in the second chapter some of his unique characters are introduced and it begins to feel like a classic Irving novel that fans love to read. A cook and his twelve-year old son have to flee when the boy accidentally kills a woman he thought was a bear, with an iron skillet. And so begins a lifetime spent watching their backs, as the son grows up to become a successful novelist (emulating Irving’s footsteps).
Written in the style of A Prayer for Owen Meany, Irving likes to ply the reader with foreshadowing (and in some cases fiveshadowing) to set up what is to come. Of course, it wouldn’t be an Irving novel if there weren’t some unexpected events, as everyone knows this writer likes to be ruthless with his characters. Politics, the Vietnam War, abortion, and many other daily life troubles affect the characters, sending them off on unpredictable tangents. The Last Night in Twisted River begins in New Hampshire, then moves on to Boston and finally Toronto (where Irving has a home), taking the characters through their lives to the final sentence of the book, which is how Irving likes to begin his books: “He felt that the great adventure of his life was just beginning – as his father must have felt, in the throes of dire circumstances of his last night in Twisted River.
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Originally written on December 12th, 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.