This novel is a true masterpiece, full gorgeous phrasings and extraordinarily keen observations. No writer is a greater virtuoso of the English language than Updike, but many of his books are plagued by scenes and storylines that dawdle and beat around the bush. Not this one. This book has a strong and well paced storyline, so you not only get Updike's immaculate writing skills but also the kind of forward momentum that keeps readers feeling a genuine sense of destination.
It's also has a flamboyant cast of characters, lead by Owen Mackenzie, who Updike takes from boyhood to the grave in a whirlwind expedition through childhood hi-jinx, courtship, marriage, fatherhood, numerous extra-marital affairs, business relationships and a career as a computer engineer and entrepreneur. You get a surprisingly well-informed and entertaining history of the computer industry?s evolution. Updike makes extraordinary observations about digital devices and their analogies to the humanity.
It?s also a very sexy book, built around male/female relationships, some sanctioned, some illicit. Nobody writes sex and love scenes like Updike, and this book is loaded with them. They?re not so much descriptions of the act as they are beautifully and incisively crafted explorations of human geography and emotion. Some of these scenes are so literary even Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson would have difficulty quibbling with them.
Lastly, the book is marvelously read and extremely well recorded, making the separation of characters very distinct.
What a treat that John Updike, though advanced in years, is still turning out such powerhouse novels.
Marginal because the story kept plodding along, moving from place to place but not diving deeply into situations or characters, with some exceptions, of course.
No because, after a promising start, it became bland and monotonous. I would instead refer them to DeMille's book The Lion's Game, which is a much stronger, more dramatic performance.
He didn't; the narrator was very good but had a lackluster script.
Sometimes yes, but too often "no."
Definitely not John Irving's best. Though filled with vivid characters and creative expression, the story moves at such a snail's pace it seems to never get off the dime. This book is badly in need of forward momentum because it runs 24 hours long.
See my review on John Irving's book The Fourth Hand. You'll be much happier with that title.
Vintage John Irving. This book is the story of TV journalist Patrick Wallingford and puts on display the colorful and sympathetic characters, dazzling imagination and vibrant storylines that have become hallmarks of Irving's classic writing style. And the tale is read by a strong and expressive voice that lights the prose in neon lettering.
On the downside, The Fourth Hand does run out of gas about three-quarters through the book (a common problem with many novels), but the ride has already been so good to that point that you will easily forgive Irving for not ending on a stronger note.
This book was a disappointment. The information about da Vinci's life was interesting. But by the mid-way point the book degrades into yet another litany of self-help and goal setting exercises. There's hundreds of book out there already recommending such exercises, and I doubt da Vinci actually spent his time with these endless and tedious tasks. In fact, if you follow the book's prescription you'd fill your entire day just doing mental exercises trying to become creative rather than actually doing creative things. There's nothing original or even very practical about this book.
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