Review: Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
If you’re in the mood for a long detail-oriented novel in the style of The Cider House Rules and The World According to Garp, John Irving is the man for you. This prolific author’s latest work, Last Night in Twisted River, is a saga worth the reader’s time.
Covering five decades and encompassing New Hampshire, Boston, Vermont, Toronto and the frozen landscape of Pointe au Barie Station, Ontario, Last Night in Twisted River traces the life and times of Dominic Baciagalupo and his son Daniel. Initially set in a logging camp in northern New Hampshire, Last Night in Twisted River begins with a tragedy and never lets up. In John Irving fashion, the characters become entwined in each other’s lives for better but often for worse. Dominic is the cook for the logging crew, and his young son observes and learns from this rough and tumble crowd. Unfortunately, there is an occurrence on the Last Night in Twisted River which sends Dominic and his son to Boston where they assume new identities. Thus, Cookie/Dominic Baciagalupo becomes Tony Angel and his son becomes Danny Angel.
The reader must truly be on his toes because in addition to name and identity changes, the author indulges in the technique “in medias res” where the reader is dropped into the middle of a situation unexpectedly. Eventually the reasoning becomes clear, but John Irving demands a lot of attention to his carefully scripted work. He’s a joy to read.
It would be pointless to get into all the subplots and numerous characters along the way, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Irving’s expert storytelling affords insight into the logging industry of northern New England in addition to many religious and political references which makes for an enriching reading experience. A keen sense of humor doesn’t hurt either.
This is another of those long complex novels whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
I give the book 4 black bears.
Happy reading from Beverly!