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Publisher's Summary

John Irving returns to the themes that established him as one of our most admired and beloved authors in this absorbing novel of fate and memory.

As we grow older - most of all, in what we remember and what we dream - we live in the past. Sometimes we live more vividly in the past than in the present.

As an older man, Juan Diego will take a trip to the Philippines, but what travels with him are his dreams and memories; he is most alive in his childhood and early adolescence in Mexico. "An aura of fate had marked him," John Irving writes of Juan Diego. "The chain of events, the links in our lives - what leads us where we're going, the courses we follow to our ends, what we don't see coming, and what we do - all this can be mysterious, or simply unseen, or even obvious."

Avenue of Mysteries is the story of what happens to Juan Diego in the Philippines, where what happened to him in the past - in Mexico - collides with his future.

©2015 Garp Enterprises, Ltd. All rights reserved. (P)2015 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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Irving Out of the Park!

If you could sum up Avenue of Mysteries in three words, what would they be?

Surreal Mind Painting

What did you like best about this story?

Juan Diego, a 50 year old novelist travels to the Philippines to keep a promise he made forty years ago to a dying hippie as a 14 year old boy living in a garbage dump in Mexico with his younger sister/savant Lupe, who reads peoples minds (though only Juan can understand her.) It is a touching tale about a brilliant but reclusive dreamer who has lost everyone he ever loved as the years have gone by. He is a dreamer, because about half the book is narrated in a dream state. And believe me, like a narcoleptic, this guy can fall asleep on a dime,and always gets a bucks worth of dream meat every time he nods off. There are some very funny dialogues between Don Juan and Lupe during these dream/ flashbacks (between the now and the then). And if that's not confusing enough, when Juan arrives in the Philippines he is immediately adopted by a gorgeous mother and daughter team, who are certainly not what they appear to be (even after the book they remain so). The only way I can describe the story is that it melts together nicely like a surreal hot caramel sauce ladled over a real world frozen custard, both rich,and wonderful. To date, this is my favorite Irving book.

Which character – as performed by Armando Duran – was your favorite?

Lupe, was a hoot, particularly because of the great voice the narrator gave her. You could not help but to laugh

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Absolutely. It was a big read, but it still went too fast.

Any additional comments?

My favorite book of the year!

22 of 22 people found this review helpful

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Not his best work, but...

even a sub-par John Irving novel is better than what most other novelists produce. So giving a star rating is tough for me; I guess four stars is about right. His usual techniques shine through the strange story leaving his fingerprints all over the novel. He is brilliant at constantly moving his readers through time yet never losing them. True to form his protagonist is the most mundane of the characters, allowing all the other quirky, bizarre, or at least interesting characters in the story to come into clear view. Again, he is a master of such elements. For variety's sake, the words "New Hampshire" don't even appear anywhere in the book. He brings us into colorful and vibrant Mexico and the Philippines, a nice change. Irving's wry and not subtle frequent mentions of just how autobiographical a novelist's works are were spot on funny and maintain the air of mystery (although I'm willing to bet he himself is on beta- blockers and Viagra, because he talks about them incessantly.) He has fun with his "fictional or real life?" politics, too. Of course there's weird unsettling sex in this one like most of his other books. The narrator was great, although both the voice and the character of Lupe became grating. Dorothy and Miriam also got on my nerves fast. I would have liked more explanation by the end but I was still satisfied. I would recommend "In One Person" or "Twisted River" before this one, but Irving fans will still find lots of enjoyment here.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Exactly What I Needed From John Irving...

Where does Avenue of Mysteries rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Avenue of Mysteries was a strange and wonderful journey. It had the mysticism of Prayer for Owen Meany and the imagination of Son of a Circus. It reminded me of early John Iriving books as I never knew what the next chapter was going to bring. Lupe was, by far, my favorite John Irving character to date. If you are not an avid follower of John Irving's work, this one might leave you confused and from some other reviews I read, possibly offended. If you are a follower, you know that the confusion is part of the journey and what others deem offensive is just his blunt and honest way to describing things as they are. For Irving fans, Avenue of Mysteries is a must -- for those new to Irving, bring an open mind and rest assured that it will all come together in the end. I can't wait to listen again!

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Wow. Just . . . Wow.

A whole new direction. A "first" novel, from a master. I have to re-think the whole body of Irving's work, in light of these ways of thinking. The most seductive invitation of my intelligent life . . .

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

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John Irving Avenue of Mysteries

While I have enjoyed some of his books, I thought this one was tedious beyond belief. The story was okay, but it was like picking eggshells out of egg white-just as you grasped it, it slipped away and you were in goo againwould have. If I heard, "his former teachers ,his former student, or the Iowan" one more time I would go nuts! All the preoccupation with penises was wearing , too. The book could have been about 6 hours shorter, and it would have passable. As it was, it was tedious and boring.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful

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20 hours of my life that I will never get back!

I'm a John Irving fan, but nothing could prepare me for this wandering, disturbingly pornographic, sinkhole of a book. Don't do it...step away from this book! Listen to A Prayer for Owen Meany or Cider House Rules instead.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Shudder

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

John Irving must like his own writing.

Would you ever listen to anything by John Irving again?

No

What does Armando Duran bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Armando Duran has a wonderful voice. This book was really well-read, but very poorly written.

What character would you cut from Avenue of Mysteries?

All of them. I'd cut all of them and start over.

Any additional comments?

I did not enjoy this book at all. The main character is what I think Irving must think of himself - an aging author who gets lots of play from young women and takes Viagra while reminiscing about his youth and how extraordinary he is. Reading this book is like getting stuck talking to your spouse's sleazy older male boss at a holiday party after he's had a few. Pompous, chauvinistic, and creepy. Not recommended.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Loved it !

A magical story full of engaging characters, sprinkled with a bit of history and social commentary. What John Irving does so well!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Stories within stories

Like many, perhaps all of Irving's novels there are stories within stories. The story of an older writer visiting a now successful spent the Philippines. The story of the same man growing up in Oaxaca as a dump child, then his story as a circus worker.
They work together well and the protagonist is likeable and interesting. I was a little disappointed that the mystery of hi sister remains apparently unresolved. Our perhaps it is one of those exercises left to the reader.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Rambling but entertaining

As with most of Mr Irving's recent novels this one rambles on a bit and leaves a few too many unanswered questions for my taste but I am a big fan of his and found it entertaining enough to keep listening. The narrator is superb.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful