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Publisher's Summary

In 1954, in the cookhouse of a logging and sawmill settlement in northern New Hampshire, an anxious 12-year-old boy mistakes the local constable's girlfriend for a bear. Both the 12-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 - John Irving's 12th novel - 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".

From the novel's taut opening sentence - "The young Canadian, who could not have been more than 15, had hesitated too long" - to its elegiac final chapter, Last Night in Twisted River is written with the historical authenticity and emotional authority of The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany. It is also as violent and disturbing a story as John Irving's breakthrough best seller The World According to Garp.

What further distinguishes Last Night in Twisted River is the author's unmistakable voice - the inimitable voice of an accomplished storyteller. Near the end of this moving novel, John Irving writes: "We don't always have a choice how we get to know one another. Sometimes, people fall into our lives cleanly - as if out of the sky, or as if there were a direct flight from Heaven to Earth - the same sudden way we lose people, who once seemed they would always be part of our lives."

©2009 John Irving (P)2009 Random House

Critic Reviews

“Absolutely unmissable . . . [A] big-hearted, brilliantly written and superbly realized intergenerational tale of a father and son.” ( Financial Times)
“There’s plenty of evidence in Irving’s agility as a writer in Last Night in Twisted River. . . . some of the comic moments are among the most memorable that Irving has written.” ( New York Times)
“Engrossing . . . Irving’s sentences and paragraphs are assembled with the skill and attention to detail of a master craftsman creating a dazzling piece of jewelry from hundreds of tiny, bright stones.” ( Houston Chronicle)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • MJL
  • New York, NY USA
  • 11-24-09

Better to read it

I've been a fan of Irving's since 1978 when "Garp" was the first hardcover I ever bought. Since then there have been some very good books (Garp, Owen Meany, Widow for One Year) and some not as good (Son of the Circus, Fourth Hand, and Until I Find You). Twisted River is one of the better ones. Good story, good characters, and good writing. Unfortunately, I listened to it rather than buying the book and reading it. I found myself mentally rolling my eyes at some of the dialogue, until it occured to me that the problem was the reader and not the prose. When I imagined reading the words I was listening to, everything fell into place and the book instantly improved.

This is the same reader as "Until I Find You", which I had judged to be an interminable mess. Could it be that the earlier book was better than I originally thought? Well no, but a good reader can often improve the experience of reading a book. This one, who has a perfectly pleasant tone, has no ear for voices, particularly the women. In a dialogue-rich book like this one, it was very distracting and ultimately diminished my enjoyment of a very good novel.

I'd rate the book itself 4 stars and the performance 1 star.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Thoroughly enjoyed this book

I thoroughly enjoy this book and it's Garpish characters. I have to agree that I wasn't thrilled with the narrator who had a hard time with voices but the book its self was outstanding. I think it gives a insight to how the writer goes about putting a book together. Well done.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Not Plausible

Having just listened to A Prayer for Owen Meany, I saved my credit for a month to download the 2 credit Last Night In Twisted River. So many plot points in this novel are just not plausible. The central plot development is ridiculous. There are several points where characters finally act or react to an event that happened fifty or sixty years in the past. These characters have got to be the slowest in the history of literature.
Rather than the taut writing of Owen Meany, Night in Twisted River is pedantic, lengthy and dull.
If all that weren't disappointing enough, the narration in this book is just awful. The narrator makes children and women sound like they are being read by kids who taunt other kids on the playground.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

A good long ramble

While I wouldn't rate this as one of Irving's best books, it's a good, long book that keeps your attention throughout. The reader is excellent, the locales interesting, and storyline well thoughtout.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Very slow!

I love John Irving, I really do but this book is terribly slow. I know if I could get through to the end I will be glad, but I simply cannot listen to another moment.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Warren
  • Spokane, WA, United States
  • 12-13-10

A Tougher Test For Irving Readers

You have to wonder what Mr. Irving thinks of his readers. Does he actively seek to weed out the casual, detached fiction reader? Where in works like "Son of the Circus" and "Until I Find You" he intricately weaves parallel and oft intersecting story lines, in Twisted River he weaves past and current events. Jumping from the present to the past and frequently to all points in between, he demands that his reader pay close attention and keep ever watchful of the bigger, evolving picture.

I am probably not among Mr. Irving's target audience. I found the book a difficult read (re-reading passages 5 and 6 times). Nonetheless, I have rated the book 5 stars mostly because of my admiration of Mr. Irving's skill. Still, I wonder if there was an assertive editor involved in the publishing of the book, and, if so, what was the nature of the dialog that transpired between Irving and editor. My suspicion is that the will of a top selling writer trumps the wisdom of a careful editor.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

It worked for me...

Yes, the underlying plot line was completely ludicrous. Given the facts of events that occurred that fateful night in Twisted River there was no reason for folks to leave town. But I got beyond that and accepted the premise.

Yes, there was a repeat of the much earlier John Irving "sex in the car" scenario, but I forgave this duplication.

I even disregarded the author's political views being forced on both the characters and the listener.

And once I got beyond all that, I though the book was great, and I highly recommend it. Not Irving's best in my opinion, but a recommended read. But then again, I think "Until I Find You" is one of Irving's best but Audible listeners seem to think otherwise.

And despite what seems to be unanimous dislike for the narrator, I thought he did a great job!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ken
  • Elko, NV, USA
  • 11-10-09

Classic Irving...better narrator, please!

This is classic John Irving, better than Until I Find You. The narrator was poor with little attempt (or ability) to give voices to different characters. I'm surprised Audible didn't even list this as a new release, much less a featured new release. I found it by searching John Irving as an author.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Joseph
  • Somerset, Kentucky, United States
  • 02-13-18

Irving at his Near Best

Only Cider House Rules and Owen Meany rate higher on my Irving index. The plot line is in many ways fantastical, but holds together with Irving's strong control of irony and fate in our daily lives.
I also believe that Ketchum is his best character, and is so vividly drawn, and so well represented audibly, that he alone is worth the price of admission.
Sometimes angels truly do fall into our lives.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • Columbia, TN, United States
  • 06-07-10

Great Story Line

I enjoyed this book, even though the characters are exaggerated. The story is a good solid story. The author does a nice job, and makes me look forward to reading more of his books. It seems like he leaves a part of himself in this book. I recommend you give it a try.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful