Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Last Night in Twisted River - John Irving

A Widow for one Year published in 1998 was the last book by John Irving I read. Last Night in Twisted River is his twelfth novel and much is familiar. Irving is a great storyteller and his books are overcrowded with major and minor characters, bizarre adventures and little facts about anything and everything.

In 1954 the Italian American cook Dominic Baciagalupo lives with his son Daniel in Twisted River, a primitive settlement in New Hampshire. At first the story ripples slowly forward until Daniel kills Injun Jane, the Indian maid and mistress of his father with a frying pan because he thought she was a bear. Father and son had to flee, otherwise the local police and boyfriend of Jane Cowboy Carl would take the law into his own hands and beat them to death. They have to change regularly name and address and that produces countless adventures over the next fifty years, described in back and forward jumps.

As the story continues the focus turns increasingly to Daniel, who is now called Danny Angel. He is a successful author of several novels which are easy to recognize as some of Irving's own work. Danny's 'East of Bangor' often refers to The Cider House rules and 'The Kennedy Fathers' shows similarities with A Prayer for Owen Meany and just like Irving with The World According to Garp, Danny became famous with his fourth novel. The reader follows Danny in his process of writing: how does a writer looks at some events? What does really happens and what does the writer makes up? It was interesting, but it didn't produce surprising new insights, although I admire the way Irving links the last page to the first.

It is obvious that John Irving enjoys inventing and writing all the adventures, but at some point I always have a feeling that its too much. This time it was the attack on the Twin Towers for in my opinion it has no other contibution than to drop some facts. But nevertheless I had some relaxing hours while reading this book.