I'm writing this review having set this book down. I did not set it down due to the subject matter, which is heavey on homoeroticism and transgender or LGBT subjects. That wasnt' the problem. I've read many of John Irving's books and enjoyed them condsiderably. His "thing" of self-reference and repetition of characters, places, and themes works for a suite of novels, but here, it just seems tired. He revisits his self-stated practice as a "re-qriter" to a fault, and it just seems self-indulgent, tired, and to be quite frank, boring. Irving is an excellent writer, and his voice is quite clear here. To those who are fans of his turns of phrase, and character creations, they may enjoy this novel. Where this novel lacks is in a dynamic narrative. It is much more or a character study than his other novels, but it seems to ask of the reader to care in the same way about a number of characters across a great breadth of time. I don't care. He didn't make me care. I found his characters uninteresting and the narrative totally flat. booooooooooo.
Irving jumped too quickly into his sage places of both character and setting to deal with a difficult subject. I found his description of the bisexual experience and the description of the historical LGBT to be well researched, but totally disingenusous.
"Over-reach" is an easy descriptor for this and some of Irving's other books. He has some fantastic novels, but is not ifallible. This book is falling heavy upon the success of "The World According to Gap", and "Hotel New Hampshire", and has nothing on them. As an extension of that, while Irving has proven in his bnovels that rewriting and revisiting memesc can work, it just makes him semm lazy and self indulgent in this one.
Even if you are a fan of Richard K. Morgan, do not bother with this one. This book is a cloudy, confused, piece of junk. There's no good character building ( or rather what's there eis lame), or narrative. There is a story here , but its negligible. Morgan is asking a lot of the reader to care about the PTSD of his protagonist. I like RKM's novels otherwise, despite his bombast, violence and pretense. This one doesn't have the awesome protagonists and crazy action of his other novels. Don't bother.
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