Last Night in Twisted River

Last Night in Twisted River

by John Irving

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Last Night in Twisted River 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 313 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved every word of this wonderful saga; not only the finely crafted story and the loveable, flawed characters, but the sound of it, the voice, the phrasing and cadence. The language carries us through improbable events and across the decades. By the writer's device and the lives of his characters we experience love and joy, sorrow and regret, fear and loneliness. Irving's grim humor lets us laugh at the capriciousness of fate and our own folly. In the face of overwhelming loss, right beside our fictional heros, we continue to live and work and accept our circumstance. In the end we find hope and redemption. What more can you ask for in a novel? The tale is perfection.
Jane-O More than 1 year ago
Geesh, I wish people would stop writing reviews and rating books when they haven't even read the book yet. Those reviews do not help me at all in deciding whether I want to read the book or not.
McCoyRJ More than 1 year ago
I noticed on the cover of this novel that the author's name is most predominant, which was the reason I and many other John Irving fans (I presume) selected this book. After reading it however, that very same reason may keep many fans of Irving (and new readers who tried this one) from ever selecting one of his novels again. Unlike others who threw in the towel early, I did read the entire book only out of respect for Mr. Irving's previous work (I resorted to skimming the last few chapters out of respect for myself). But I found myself constantly struggling "not" to put this one down for good. It is quite possibly one of the worst novels I have ever read. Best described, "Last Night at Twisted River" is part cookbook, part political rant (mindless liberal hatred of G.W Bush and general vitriol towards conservatives), and most of all rehashing old ideas - deranged bears, teen's death while driving on a snow covered highway, loss of a hand, an adolescent's infatuation with an older woman, and (believe it or not) even a tragic accident in the midst of receiving fellatio. To make matters worse, not a single character had any redeeming qualities at all. For Irving's sake, this novel is completely forgettable (if not for how bad it is). I still highly recommend his old work for those unfamiliar with him, but as his last few novels have shown, he has sadly lost some of his gift for story telling. That may be enough to keep some fans interested, but in my opinion, this novel was a complete waste of time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed 420 pages of this book, then I started hitting something I have never seen before in an Irving novel: polarizing political diatribes. I for one don't want to hear the same old liberal shibboleths about recent elections, even if spoken by a "character". If Daniel Baciagalupo is so apolitical, why does his love for John Kerry advance the story? Even as controversial as The Cider House Rules were, the explosive issues of abortion were handled sensitively and gently by Irving. I enjoyed the latter story even though I am firmly pro-life myself. How are these fictional events furthered by dragging out the same personal attacks on certain politicians and those who happen to agree with them? It's disappointing, but I'll have to watch reviews on future Irving books more carefully before I buy.
thewanderingjew More than 1 year ago
This is a tale of tragedy, loss, love and friendship. John Irving has a knack for making the outlandish and the horrific, the extraordinary and the traumatic, seem mundane. Even the most awful moments are reduced to a matter of fact ordinariness. I thought that the characters in Last Night At Twisted River, seemed naïve and stuck in a time frame which seemed to have more in common with the days of the wild West in the 1800's, with its lawlessness, than the 50's in New Hampshire. Their backwoods mentality stays with them even as they move to more cosmopolitan locations and their naivete and/or inability to fit in or anticipate the dangers of their world, seems to govern their lives. For me all of the dysfunctional characters became more endearing as the book progressed, even as some events and coincidences become stranger and stranger. They are not lucky in love or in life, though, hard as they try. There always seemed to be a cloud of disaster following all of them. Even the short fused, illiterate, at first, Paul Bunyanesque character of Ketchum, (a logger with a mouth like trash, who insists on saying whatever he likes, in whatever manner he likes, regardless of where he is), becomes more and more lovable as he ages, although his old age does not soften him and he becomes even more recalcitrant. The story takes place over a period of 60 + years and three generations. The meat of it pretty much begins and ends with the tale of a bear and a hand. An accidental murder propels the main characters into a world of constant fear and running, trying to escape the wrath of Carl, the constable of Twisted River. Fear of being caught forces them to relocate many times when they are accidentally discovered. They are not afraid of being caught by the law, primarily but rather by the corrupt constable from Twisted River, who is hell bent on revenge for the murder of his lover, Injun Jane, whom he has abused in the past and at first thought he had killed, in a drunken stupor. He is an abusive beast of a man who uses his extraordinary size and strength to often take the law into his own hands meting out punishment as he chooses, which basically means in Twisted River, he is the uncontested law of the land. No one wants to cross him except perhaps, Ketchum, the recalcitrant logger who is Dominick Baciagalupo and his son's dearest friend and protector. Dominick, a cook, is a gentle man with an identifying limp. He is devoted totally to his son Daniel who is a thoughtful, well spoken obedient young man, who accidentally kills Injun Jane whom he adores, when he is a child. He mistakes her for a bear when he catches his dad and her in a compromising situation. He has awakened from sleep and the sounds he heard, coupled with her size and massive bulk and her unusually long hair, made him panic. He hits her with a skillet, rumored to have been used to strike and frighten a bear attacking his mother, Rosie. He believes this time that it is his father under attack. That incident begins their life on the run. Tragedy follows this family from the first. Although they keep starting over someplace new, each time they settle in, they are somehow coincidentally discovered and are forced to move on again. The peaceful life eludes them while tragedy continues to chase them. Although it may take about 50 pages to get into the story don't give up. As the book continues, it gets better and better except for the political bias. It was unnecessary.
Booklover87 More than 1 year ago
I love John Irving and I think he is a great writer, however, this book was not his best. The beginning and end were the best parts but the middle became tedious to get through. Some of his content was very political and he touched on things like the Vietnam War and September 11th. If you are a John Irving fan, it is worth reading because of how great of a writer he is but some who have not read him before might find it boring and too long.
sherrythefang More than 1 year ago
I feel like I have been sucker-punched. I get repeating themes and I have always appreciated it in Irving's writing. This feels like some creative writing assignment gone awry "How many of these themes can you get into 500+ pages?". I think Irving's time has past- Irving is a caricature of himself- terrible book.
ThirtyOnePointSeven More than 1 year ago
This book was good; not John's best, but an excellent read. I think my favorite aspect of the book was Mr. Irving's repeated themes. I really feel like I know the author through the themes he uses from novel to novel. The characters are excellent; each with truly distinct personalities. The plot also excellent - not too out there, but not too "in there" either. If you're a John Irving fan, it is, of course, a must read. If you've never read any of the author's novels, I would start with a different one, then move to this one.
McAusland More than 1 year ago's so nice to read a good Irving book again. It's been a while since I started one of his books and was drawn in. Very reminiscent of A Prayer for Owen Meany and Cider House Rules. I'm less than 100 pages in and loving every page. Cheers to you Mr. Irving for giving us another wonderful novel.
SuzeJones58 More than 1 year ago
It's an inter-generational tale told in John Irving's own style ... absurd, sexual, and twisted. But there's little redemption to be found in this tale; it's just twisted enough to be gross and not worth reading. Worse yet, the book just goes on and inter-generational tale doesn't have to be this way! I read two-thirds of the book and then skipped to the last chapter where it's obvious how everything has ended up and not a whole lot of surprises there, either.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've been a great Irving fan since his first novel, Setting Free The Bears, when I was one of about 4,000 people who might have read that book. I've enjoyed all of his books since (that I've read) until this one, that just feels like it was written into a tape recorder.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have always loved John Irving's writing but this book fell short of what I've come to expect from him. I felt as though he rambled and went off in 10 different directions about 2/3 of the way through the book. I completely lost interest and really had to struggle to finish it.
old55 More than 1 year ago
This is a very good book. It is one of Irvings better efforts. It is long and typically Irving in its twists and seemingly unrelated events that eventually converge in tragedy, loss and acceptance. It's a good story, but I believe it will be judged to be in the second tier of his works, behind Cider House Rules, World According to Garp and A Prayer for Owen Meany. This falls into the "Widow for One Year" group - loved by some, disappointing to others. I personally wouldn't classify this as disappointing, but this book does seem to fall a little short of Irving's A list. Read it and decide for yourself.
SugarCreekRanch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A logging camp cook and his son become fugitives. This novel has many truly excellent sections, but it strayed far from the main storyline and became a chore to finish. If it had been editted to about half the length, it would've been great.
ZoharLaor on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first John Irving novel and the word "operatic" comes to mind. Even though this novel is long, the plot is tight and interesting. I never thought I'd read a novel which has a tight plot, but still manages to ramble on and on as well as keep my interest - but there you have it.The premise of the novel seems, at least to me, is the making of a writer. Daniel Baciagalupo and his father flee a 1950's New Hampshire logging town after Daniel accidentally killed his father's lover. On the run the Baciagalupo rediscover their Boston roots and spend a large part of the novel dodging a vengeful and crazy New Hampshire sheriff.After attending some very exclusive schools, Daniel becomes a successful writer, has a son and keeps in touch with Ketchum, an extinct species of Americans who embodies New Hampshire's motto of "Live Free or Die". Ketchum manages to rant against everyone and anyone, the hippies, Catholics, conservatives and liberals; ironically the embodiment of extreme libertarian hates all other extremes - yet, in my opinion, his character is the glue that holds the story together.The story moves back and forth in time, despite Irving's weird sex scenes, violent actions and some funny (and not so funny) deaths, the plot revolves around Daniel becoming a writer and gives Mr. Irving the opportunity to take out his ire on "dimwitted" book reviewers and sensationalistic media, which I thought was hilarious given the context.This is one of those books that I, personally, really like. The book is polished (but not overdone), the characters are very engaging and each one, even the minor ones, has their own history full of prose as well as many insights into parenthood and the joys and pains that come with it.
kris_onken on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really wanted this book to work, particularly since I invested 554 pages. t just wasn't great. Too contrived, a lot of dead wood Ketchum was a delightful character but he made his exit with an ax, aspirin and some booze. Give me a break.
atlantic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel harks back to his earlier novels (Garp, Owen Meany). Excellent storytelling and engaging characters. Enjoyed immensely.
comato on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'll start by saying that I've only read one other of Irving's books, "A Prayer for Owen Meany." I think Irving is an author with die-hard fans and I don't have enough experience with his work to count myself among them. I had a lot of trouble with this book. The beginning, where we're introduced to the characters and their logging camp home, is very bleak. Once the setting changed, I found the reading a little easier, but the book did not consistently keep my attention. Maybe if I had more context, were more familiar with Irving, I would appreciate all the self-referential in-jokes that the other reviewers delighted in, but I found my mind wandering as I tried to keep reading. It felt self-indulgent to me, and contrived, instead of playful and engaging. At over 550 pages, this is a long book, and I felt like I struggled through a lot of it. And it's not that I don't like long books; this year, I read Les Miserables. I finished it more quickly than I did this book--and I enjoyed it more. Meh.
suetu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I may as well come out and say it: I love John Irving. My love is unconditional. I will defend his lesser novels against all defamers. Happily, I will not be put in that position anytime soon, because Last Night in Twisted River is his strongest novel in years. It¿s a wonderful read!I recently told a friend, ¿It¿s so good it hurts.¿ Reflecting on what I had said, I realized I was right. Sometimes reading his books hurts. He populates his novels with sweet, sentimental, anxious men, and then he tortures them. Mr. Irving¿s signature blend of comedy and tragedy is again on display. Only in his world does an oft-repeated tale of whacking a bear on the nose with a frying pan lead to an accidental death.The novel opens in rural New Hampshire in 1954. Widower Domenic Baciagalupo is the cook at a logging camp, where he is assisted by his 12-year-old son, Danny. It¿s a rough and tumble world, personified by the gruff and rugged logger, Ketchem, who becomes the closest thing to family that either Baciagalupo has. Last Night in Twisted River is an epic novel, spanning some 50 years. The aforementioned accidental death is the novel¿s catalyst. It causes Domenic and Danny to go on the run, sought for decades by a vigilante sheriff. But aside from being the tale of this truncated family¿s life in exile, this is a story about how you become the person you are.Specifically, Mr. Irving is looking at how a writer becomes a writer, because that, indeed, is what Danny Baciagalupo becomes¿a successful one, too. In fact, Danny Baciagalupo¿s career is¿ John Irving¿s career. There is no attempt to disguise the obviousness of the career trajectory, the subject matter of the books, the literary criticism¿all are identical to Irving¿s. It seems clear that the author is having some fun with the self-referential material, but for fans like me, Irving gives us unusual insight into his process, and possibly some of his own attitudes on the life of a writer. Though, perhaps we can¿t assume that is so, as Danny has much to say about readers¿ assumptions about the autobiographical nature of fiction, and the value of what is borrowed versus what is imagined. In a recent review, I commented on the way that Pat Conroy returns again and again to certain themes and plot elements in his fiction, but ¿jumbles them up in new and interesting ways.¿ Certainly this is true, too, of Mr. Irving. In this novel we again find bears, writers, absent parents, endangered children, New England settings, prep schools, and so forth. It¿s easy to compare different aspects of this latest novel to what has come before. A dash of Garp and a soupçon of Owen Meany. But right from the start, the work of which this reminded me the most is The Cider House Rules. Not in subject matter, but in the period setting and the span of the story being told. And probably in the nature of the male relationships in this novel.Last Night in Twisted River is a long, heart-wrenching story. You won¿t be racing through it. You may learn more about logging than you ever wanted to know. But Irving¿s language is magnificent and you won¿t soon forget these characters and their epic journey. This book is a must read for all fans of John Irving and of great literature.
Doondeck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It was a joy to read another Irving novel. There were so many references to past Irving novels: a bear, tattoos, a missing hand, an abortion clinic. Although this book tended to bog down in the middle with too many geographic switches between Iowa and Vermont, it still ranks as one of the best of last year.
strongstuff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
John Irving is a first-rate story-teller and he does not disappoint with 'Last night in Twisted River.' From the backwoods of northern New Hampshire, to mid 20th-century Boston, to contemporary Canada, Irving steers the reader through more than 50 years of the Baciagalupo's history. In this "world of accidents" we come to learn how quickly people can appear and disappear from our lives. Although a bit lengthy, the novel satisfies with rich details and quirky characters - not to mention glimpses of the author's own writing habits and history. Well done.
TooBusyReading on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't like telling much about plots in my reviews because when I read a review, I want to know what people think of the book, not much detail about the story itself. This story begins in a logging camp in New Hampshire with the drowning of a young logger and ends a half a century later in Ontario with a writer who had been at the camp as a child. In between are three generations of family, unforgettable characters, both enemies and friends, and a story that ultimately captured my imagination and appreciation. Enough plot. I love most of John Irving's novels, and A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of my all-time favorite books. That's why I was disappointed when I initially didn't love Last Night in Twisted River. While it started on a high note, the story bogged down for me. I was annoyed by what seemed to me an overuse of italics to emphasize certain single words within sentences. I thought the novelist in the story, who published successful novels, complained too much about how the media wanted to know about the autobiographical nature of novels while he, most unconvincingly, denied it at the same time he was revealing plots that mirrored his own life. The book was divided into sections of time and place, and there was quite a bit of time shifting that was initially hard to form into a congruous whole. There was repetition, so much repetition. Eventually, all of this began to fall into place for me, and became like the proverbial snake swallowing its own tail. By the end of the book, I loved the whole story and, once again, truly appreciated Mr. Irving's style of storytelling.
SamSattler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Last Night in Twisted River" is not quite the comeback John Irving needed to make readers forget, or to forgive, the dreary "Until I Find You," but it is a giant step in the right direction. One of things Irving has always done best is to create remarkably detailed and realistic settings in which to place his larger-than-life characters and he uses that skill to great effect here. Irving also touches on so many of his familiar themes (wrestling, single-parent homes, New England locales, sudden loss of those closest to you, and bears, among them) that his longtime readers will recognize the territory. This story of the Dominic Baciagalupo family, spanning more than five decades and three generations, begins in the remote logging environment of 1950s New Hampshire, very near the Canadian border. Dominic, known to everyone in the logging camp as ¿Cookie,¿ is in charge of feeding all those involved in the formidable task of harvesting the riches of the New Hampshire forests. He has lived alone above the cookhouse with his twelve-year-old son Danny ever since losing his wife to the tragic river accident that claimed her so suddenly one winter night. Dominic, having experienced or witnessed numerous crippling, if not always fatal, accidents in Twisted River over the years, knows that he lives in ¿a world of accidents¿ and he lives in dread of the next moment someone close to him will be snatched away.Even in his wildest imagination, however, Dominic could not have imagined the accident that would force him to flee Twisted River with his son in a desperate attempt to keep the two together. Nor could he have imagined that what happened in the cookhouse that night would haunt Dominic and Danny Baciagalupo for the next fifty years. The pair may have left Twisted River behind forever but they still had to reckon with a man who wanted revenge so badly that he would never stop searching for them. Over five decades, and three generations, Dominic and Danny would live in several states and Canada, moving every time their tormentor seemed to be catching up with them.Dominic and Danny are lucky to have the help of their old friend, Ketchum, a giant of a man who still lives near enough Twisted River to keep an eye on the man filled with such hate for Dominic and his son. Several times over the decades, Ketchum convinces Dominic and Danny that it is again time for them to abandon their new life in favor of avoiding the man who wants to see them dead. Several geographic moves will culminate finally in Danny and his father living in Toronto where Dominic works in a popular restaurant while Danny pursues his career as the bestselling author Danny Angel. Ketchum, Dominic and Danny are not the only memorable characters in "Last Night in Twisted River," however. The book is filled with women that are large in every sense of the word and each of them plays a significant role in the lives of the Baciagalupo men. Among others, there are ¿Injun Jane,¿ Dominic¿s one-time lover who weighs in at more than 300 pounds; ¿Six-Pack Pam,¿ Ketchum¿s lover who is large enough to intimidate most men with malice on their minds; and ¿Lady Sky,¿ the naked skydiver who literally falls into Danny¿s lap."Last Night in Twisted River" is an intriguing story but there is a bit of a problem in the way that Irving tells it. At over 550 pages in length, its repetitiousness becomes tedious, especially, but not limited to, the chapters following the book¿s climax. Too, numerous pages toward the very end of the book are used as a political rant of sorts (an extremely mean-spirited and vulgar rant, at that) against all things Republican, conservative, George W. Bush, or religious right. Similar, but more concise, expressions made earlier in the book fit the voices of the characters making them, but one feels that the rant at the end of the book is there strictly for the benefit of Irving, not his characters. It makes for a jarring change of tone and, because it o
LBM007 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wanted to give this book more stars since I don't often read anything this deep and liking it proves and I am intelligent enough to appreciate real literature. Towards the end, though, I really didn't care anymore what happened to the characters. Which is good, I guess, because otherwise I probably would have given it even fewer stars for the improbable ending.
goddesswashu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Last Night In Twisted River" is another beautifully written masterpiece by John Irving. Although it took me a while to get hooked and I put it down many times, I found myself loving it. John Irving has a beautiful writing style that I have yet to find with any other author, and a unique way to touch your heart that is all his own. I have greatly enjoyed every book that I have read by him, and I look forward to many more. I would recommend "Last Night In Twisted River" to any John Irving fan, or to anyone who is interested in becoming one.