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Monday, April 17, 2006

John Irving's Latest - UNTIL I FIND YOU

I know some of my regular blogging friends are John Irving fans, so thought I'd put a blurb in about his latest novel, Until I Find You (since I finally read it).

It's a big book, coming in at 824 pages and with a small typeface. It's also so heavy that I had to adjust my position a lot while reading in bed - the best position being lying on my back with the book propped on my chest and my glasses propped on the end of my nose. I prefer a sideways read, but my arm was becoming as numb as Elizabeth Green's (see Out of the Blue). The bathtub was out of the question.

As I read along, I was undecided about whether this was Irving's best novel - his masterpiece, or the weakest he's written. At the end, I am inclined to the first judgement. The ending brought me to tears (and it wasn't just the weight off my chest).

It's the life story of Jack Burns and the narration wanders around the planet to places many of you are familiar with - Amsterdam, Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Toronto, New York, Maine (of course) Los Angeles and so on.

About page 500 or so I began to wonder why John has included penises and vaginas so frequently in the book. Not that I mind these things particularly (they have their place one could say), but what's going on? It also includes the worlds of tattoos, wrestling, classical organ music (not the penis and vagina organs in this case), acting, porn stars, plot twists and turns, fantastic characters and for you diehard Irving fans... yes there are novels within this novel (and movies of the novels within the novel). At its heart, there is a mystery which I will not ruin for you.

If you like John Irving, you have to read it. If you're thinking of exploring him, I might suggest Ciderhouse Rules or A Prayer for Owen Meany.

I have it still wrapped laying besides the bed for months but now you mention penisses and vagina's I guess I give it a go tonight..
I am off the library/bookstore to read this book!!! Thanks for the recommendation!
I think I've read them all so far and will make sure of this one.

Keep passing the open windows, Gary.
Haven't read any of the books. I wanted to come here and thank you for sharing your story about your little dog with me. We both are dealing with little elderly dogs with failing parts. These are not the happiest of times for us, but we are both doing our damnedest to make it the happiest times for them. :)
Have only read Ciderhouse rules, and loved it. But I do find them a bit heavy. (literally - they're huge!) so I can't bring them with me everywhere - my handbag couldn't handle it..
But I will look up this and the Owen Meany book. Allways looking for good reads!
I would add The Hotel New Hampshire and The World According to Garp to the "explore Irving" list.

"...and it wasn't just the weight off my chest." Laughed out loud at that one.

The new one is on my summer list. Thanks.
Sounds like a good one! You've inspired me to hunt for Irving audiobooks. They are great for long plane rides.

A Prayer for Owen Meany was the first book I ever read that actually made me cry. I cry all the times at movies, but almost never at books.
I LOVE John Irving. I will definitely have to check this one out. I love all the Irving twists & turns and odd references. It was feet in A Widow for One Year.

My three favorite Irving novels are Ciderhouse Rules, The World According to Garp, and A Widow for One Year.

I've also learned that no matter how much you might hate an Irving book at any point while you are reading it, you'll probably love it at the end. I keep telling myself that every time I try to get into Owen Meany. I have tried to start that book about 6 times, but it just doesn't hold my interest.

My love to the dogs of Gary & Pissed off Patricia. My dog will be 12 in a couple of months, so I am treasuring my time with him while he is still healthy.

Good to be able to comment again, Gary.
I love John Irving, but have had a hard time getting into this particular story. Your review re-newed my interest and I think I'll hit it again this week. Thanks!

"The Hotel New Hamsphire" and "The Water Method Man" are must reads!
Until I Find You was not my favorite. I think Owen Meany is still my hands-down favorite. However, after they age, like fine wine, I suppose, it is good to go back and re-explore Irving's works. A Widow for One Year was better the second time, and The Fourth Hand has become a favorite. I will re-read the latest again when it has had time to breathe.
I agree with you stlmom - Owen Meany is on my top 5 list of all literature - time to read it again!

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