Last Night in Twisted River (英語) ペーパーバック – 2010/6/15
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“The young Canadian, who could not have been more than fifteen, had hesitated too long.”
So begins John Irving’s twelfth novel, Last Night in Twisted River. In 1954, in the cookhouse of a logging and sawmill settlement in northern New Hampshire, an anxious twelve-year-old boy mistakes the local constable’s wife for a bear. Both the twelve-year-old and his father become fugitives, forced to run from Coos County—to Boston, to southern Vermont, to Toronto—pursued by the implacable constable. Their lone protector is a fiercely libertarian logger, once a river driver, who befriends them. In a story spanning five decades, Last Night in Twisted River depicts the recent half-century in the United States as “a living replica of Coos County, where lethal hatreds were generally permitted to run their course.”
Longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
"Last Night in Twisted River is a novel of excellence. This big-hearted, brilliantly written and superbly realised inter-generational tale of a father and son on the lam, and their flawed protector, stands comparison with the very best of Irving's previous work. It is absolutely unmissable." Irvine Welsh, Financial Times
"Last Night in Twisted River mulls the crises that steep Irving's finest work, from Garp to Owen Meany to Widow. Yet the scale here is more human, and his approach more humane, than anything that's come before." Los Angeles Times
"One of Mr. Irving's more powerful works." The New York Times
"Irving both tickles the narrative palate of saga—and suspense—lovers, and guides us gently down the paths of unaccustomed thought on civility, politics and art. . . . Irving always keeps one foot in the fairy-tale forest. Fate and kinship—by blood or choice— entwine as intimately in his books as they ever did in Dickens." The Independent
文字制限があるのでここで詳細を説明できないが、ダイハードなアーヴィングファ ンであれば「これぞアーヴィング！」と歓迎する作品であり、そうでない人の反応はまったく予想できない。私は「大いなる駄作」と感じたが私とは異なる感想を抱く人はいるはずだ から「自分で読んで結論を出してください」というのが、私からの率直なアドバイスである。
The story itself was told mostly in flashbacks, so that the reader always had the sense of knowing what was going to happen before it did, just an an author knows where his story is going. The suspense therefore, was always regarding the how, maybe the why, but not the what. In the end notes, Irving states that he always writes from the end backward, getting the last first, and taking potentially years to "find" the beginning. That came across in the book. One could see in retrospect that the book was written that way. And, that was only one of many ways the author wove technique into the story and used the story to reveal technique.
But what of the story itself? The author admits in the end notes that it bears some elements of autobiography, but makes it clear that it is autobiographical only in the sense of rehearsing the worst things that might have, but happily did not happen to the author in his journey through life up to this point. It is a compelling, engrossing story, although it took this reader 10-20 percent of the book to become totally wrapped up in it. And, the tone of nostalgia, foreboding and survivor's guilt was always there, but never overwhelming.
I would not draw too many broad conclusions about the meaning of life from this book. It was, fundamentally, idiosyncratic, but I will venture one thought in that regard. So are all our lives.
In the afterward, Irving wrote that since "The Cider House Rules," he's used the technique of starting his writing with the last line. I loved "Cider House Rules" and I loved his next book, "A Prayer for Owen Meany." After that, I haven't enjoyed his writing as much, so maybe that technique doesn't work so well? Just my opinion...
I think that plot is good as are the characters. It's some of the other parts that bother me.
There just seemed to be too many things that stretched believability. Things that Irving seems to have thought of late in the writing of the novel that he decides to make an important plot point, despite the fact that it's never been mentioned in the first 400 pages or so, minor issues that all of a sudden become important, etc.
The last hundred or so pages, Ketchum's obsession with cutting off his hand is brought up over and over again. Eventually, he kills himself by cutting his hand off. Danny, the main character, mentions Ketchum's obsession with cutting off his hand. I went back and re-read parts of the novel; Ketchum wanting to cut off his hand only is brought up in towards the end of the novel. It's almost like Irving only came up with the idea at the end, and by having the main character mention that Ketchum was obsessed about it, we'd think it was part of the novel since the beginning. Also, obviously suicide is tragic, but Ketchum was 87 when he killed himself? Maybe I missed that part, but why did he do it? Was it because of guilt over not being able to protect the father? That link wasn't that strong to me; maybe I missed it.
The ex-cop who is chasing after Danny and his father - we never really get to know Carl, and how crazy he is. He only get to hear from other characters how crazy he is, we never get to see it first hand. Yes, toward the end of the novel, we are told second-hand about how we beats and rapes Six-Pack Pam, but again, it's toward the end, as if Irving figures he should show us how crazy he is, instead of just telling us. And it takes him forty something years to finally find Danny and his father? Maybe if he tried harder, he'd have found them earlier? That part seems to stretch the imagination.
The character of Lady Sky is just odd to me. She's in it for ten pages, and turns up at the end to be the love of Danny's life. Two characters who barely know each other pine for each other for forty years, and she shows up out of the blue? Or out of the white - it was during a snowstorm. It seemed forced to me.
LAST NIGHT IN TWISTED RIVER gets fours starts from me because it isn't A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY. By that logic, no other John Irving novel will ever receive more than four stars from me. That's a bit unfair, but that's how it is with me and A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY. But, LAST NIGHT IN TWISTED RIVER gets four stars from me because it is a good John Irving novel, though a "good John Irving novel" is often predictable. In this novel, we get the sexual awakening with an older woman, the missing parent, an author who doesn't like to sign his books, and other elements that we now know are thinly veiled aspects of Irving's own biography (especially the author who doesn't like top sign his books. I followed Irving through the bowels of Old Cabell Hall, every novel to date in hand, after he gave a reading at the University of Virginia back in 1983, only to have him tell me that he doesn't sign his books). Predictable isn't bad, though. I've often heard of Charles Dickens' influence on Irving, and I see that influence the most in this novel. The predictable elements are good; they are a part of a good Irving narrative like the orphan child is an important part of Dickens. I find it very comforting and to return to these elements in Irving's work.