Customer Reviews for

Last Night in Twisted River

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

This is a truly satisfying read!

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...
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.

posted by SoCal_Reader on November 23, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

11 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

How can you review a book before you have even read it ???

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.

posted by Jane-O on August 22, 2009

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  • Posted August 22, 2010

    The thing I love most about this book is that it creates interest for me, rather than tension. It doesn't need to keep you on the edge of the seat to keep you there

    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.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 22, 2009

    I loved the repeated themes

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    John Irving at 90% is better than others at 100%

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2014

    Another good read from John Irving

    Anicetale from John Irving. Not as good as The World According to Garp, but still an interesting tale filked with humor and tragedy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2012

    Truly enjoyable - A story to get lost in.

    A many layered tapestry of intertwining lives and loves. Irving has a way of exposing the soul of his characters in a way that allows us to understand and embrace them.

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  • Posted September 15, 2011

    Recommended

    Another Irving tale with twists and turns, many people coming and going, births, deaths, and all along me thinking Im there. I really enjoy reading John Irving.

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  • Posted February 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    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 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.

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  • Posted November 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Making of a Writer

    "Last Night in Twisted River" 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.

    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.


    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.

    For more book reviews please visit ManOfLaBook dot com

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2010

    Great read!

    One of the fasted John Irving books I've read so far. Fantastic charachter development and imagination. I wasn't totally satisfied with the ending, but overall its an enjoyable read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2010

    Lots of twists and turns. Enjoyed this book. Will read more Irving after this one.

    John Irving has a great imagination. Humorous, poignant and thought provoking. Thank you Mr. Irving.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    OK for Irving

    This book was okay and "Danny" is clearly a reflection of John Irving as a writer. Book was a good read, however, the political ranting towards the end are Irving's obvious personal feelings. Look forward to hopefully more JI material.

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  • Posted February 1, 2010

    Quirky, as usual.

    It's wild & unexpected to anyone who has not read Irving. Pay close attention to the plot...he likes to jump forward & back in time a lot.
    His books are always a "fun" read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2010

    If you like John Irving, you will like this book!

    John Irving gives us his usual great story telling abilities along with all the flawed characters that you love!

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  • Posted January 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Typical John Irving

    I have seen several reviews that bemoan the repetitative themes and scattered plots and "flat" characters....but I liked it. I have not read much of John Irvings works for some time, but it was thougoughly enjoyable to me.

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  • Posted January 2, 2010

    The John Irving of "Garp" and "Owen Meany" is back

    For those of us who have despaired over the lackluster offerings of John Irving since "A Prayer for Owen Meaney", "Last Night at Twisted River" is good news indeed. The John Irving we learned to love for his one-of-a-kind characters and plots where everything counted is back and in fine fettle.

    The only difficulty for the reader is plowing thorough the first 100 pages, which could have been rendered in 50. It is a small price to pay, however, for what follows is not only as good as Irving used to be, but better. His characters are richer, the action bigger, and the reader can only dive in, remembering that Irving's characters live in a universe in which they are subject to forces over which they have no control.

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  • Posted January 2, 2010

    Autobiographical?

    Once again, John Irving puts a lot of himself into his own characters and gives us his best book since "A Prayer for Owen Meaney". "Last Night In Twisted River" focuses on a father and son and their connection with a lifelong family friend. The son is a writer whose history closely parallels Irving's own, which makes for a very fun read, especially for those familir with Irving's career. Like in many of his books, bears play a very important role in the story, and Irving once again deals with the death of a child. The main criticism I had with the book is that it jumps between time periods way too quickly, sometimes even in the same paragraph. But overall, it was a very fun read and one that Irving fans will enjoy.

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  • Posted December 19, 2009

    Unexpected reality pull.

    Last Night in Twisted River was really an unexpected pleasure to read. Just when you thought it was going to be one of those plain old "is that all" stories another layer is added. I love reading a story that does not follow the same old theme and gives me something to think about even after the book is done.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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