Tag Archives: Fave Reads

Review: Last Night in Twisted River

Last Night in Twisted RiverLast Night in Twisted River
By John Irving
Random House
June 2010
592pp

The Short of It:

Unforgettable characters and a truly unique story are something reader’s expect from an Irving novel. Last Night in Twisted River delivers on both counts.

The Rest of It:

The story begins in a New Hampshire logging camp in 1954. Twelve-year-old Daniel accidentally kills the local constable’s girlfriend, which forces him and his father to flee town. As fugitives, they move from place to place, making friends along the way.

Told over the course of five decades, Last Night in Twisted River is many things. It’s definitely a story about a father and a son, but it’s also very much a story about friendship. In this novel, friendships remain true and loyalties prevail.

I fell in love with many of the characters in this novel. Dominic could not love his son more. The passages where he reflects upon Daniel literally caused my heart to ache. Some may argue that Dominic’s decision to flee does more harm than good, but when it comes to the protection of your child, people often make rash decisions. I didn’t hold it against him.

Oh, and Daniel!. He’s flawed in many ways. He seems to pick all the wrong women and has a tendency to drink too much, but the love that he holds for his father is enough to make you love him. He’s cautious, until he’s not. Which is sort of an ongoing theme throughout the novel. He grows up to be a writer and it’s through his writing that we get to know the real Daniel.

My favorite character of all though is Ketchum. Ketchum is their logging friend who remains a constant source of support for them. Although he is my favorite, I’ll let you experience him for yourself when you pick-up the book.

I do have this to say about Irving’s depiction of women… I’m not sure if he loves them or hates them! In this novel, the women are very bold, surly types. Most have questionable manners and lack good hygiene, yet they are quite important within the story itself. I enjoyed them, because although they lacked social graces and often, common sense, they were endearing in some way.

I love how Irving is able to walk a reader through a story. He takes your hand, and glides you through the chapters as if you’re a character in the story. I don’t believe there was ever a moment where I felt lost. His voice comes through so clearly. It’s one of the things that I love about Irving’s writing.

Last Night in Twisted River is a bit long, but well worth the effort. It will be on my fave list for 2010 and will probably be a favorite of mine for a long time to come. There aren’t many books that you want to reread right after finishing. That’s how I felt about this one.

Source: Purchased

Review: Middlesex

Middlesex Book Cover

Middlesex
By Jeffrey Eugenides
Picador
2002
544pp

The Short of It:

Middlesex is smartly written, richly layered and brilliant.

The Rest of It:

I raise one fist (male typically) and begin to beat on the walls of my eggshell until it cracks. Then, slippery as yolk, I dive headfirst into the world” (211).

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides is about Cal Stephanides. Cal is a hermaphrodite and it’s through his narration that we learn about 5-alpha-reductase deficiency and how it affected his development. Cal begins his story in the present day and then takes us back to the beginning, where his grandparents, Lefty and Desdemona make a decision that will forever change his life.

I hesitate to go into too much detail as there is so much to be discovered in this book, and those discoveries should be made by you, at your own pace. What I can say, is that Middlesex blew me away. It’s a complex, meaty type of read but the best kind of read…one told with humor and a definite voice.

It’s epic in scope but remarkably readable. The themes of identity, re-birth, transformation, race relations and nature vs. nurture are balanced out with humor and characters that breathe the same air we do. These themes speak to everyone, which is probably why Middlesex won the Pulitzer for fiction in 2003.

I read this novel for my Contemporary Lit class and it was well-received by everyone. Even the non-readers in the class had something to say about this book and although I finished it weeks ago, I am still re-reading passages. It’s definitely one of my faves for 2010.

If this novel escaped your radar when it first came out, I urge you to pick it up now.

Source: Purchased for my Contemporary Lit class.