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review 2018-08-08 13:11
Review of The Fourth Hand by John Irving
The Fourth Hand - John Irving

This was my fourth Irving novel and while I did enjoy his writing as always, this particular story didn't move me like the previous three novels.  This one follows a main character who loses his hand, but it is really about his relationships and how he tries to put his emotional life together.  For Irving fans I think this would be worth the read, but it was not a page turner like some of his more famous works.

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review 2018-06-23 22:49
A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving

A tidbit I learned whilst reading was that much like the narrator, John Wheelwright, John Irving's mother never revealed the identity of his father to him. Apparently this book contains a lot of Irving's biography (well mixed with fiction) which may interest someone, but not really me.


The thought experiment: what would it take to make me a Christian? is interesting. And it plays out here in the form of one Owen Meany -- annoying prophetic child who knows, without any doubt, that he's an instrument of God. People who have zero doubt are often very irritating, as Owen can be. Owen hasn't arrived at his doubtless state without interrogating his faith or life, though. He's not full of faith because he refuses to see reality, in fact it's almost the opposite. He seems to have questioned and still believes his fate and purpose. I grew up in the Catholic church and never met a person like this until I was already quite the doubting Thomas. However, I can attest to how discombobulating strong faith can be in the face of endless questioning, and this is what Irving sets up so beautifully, comically and tragically for John and Owen.


Along the way we witness a friendship between two boys and young men that is so charming and graceful and appealing that it's hard not to be moved. The comic scenes are pure gold. (I both read and listened to the Christmas pageant scene many times. I bookmarked my audio copy there, and it made me laugh so hard tears rolled down my face, even when I already knew what was going to be said. It's a perfect scene.)


This novel is dense, full of little details, flies off on what seem like tangents, and more than once I wondered if there was an editor. Then in one fell swoop every single detail that seemed extraneous, silly or irritating falls into place. Details become symbols. Tangents find their meaning. The topsy-turvy struggle between faith and doubt gets an answer -- at least for John. But Owen's "gift" of faith to John is not without cost. John Wheelwright is bitter and confused and doesn't seem to know his own place in the world, though he's clear on Owen's. So even with an easy answer on the question of God, this novel shows how painful a life of faith can still be.


Please read this book if you haven't. I'll evangelize for John Irving's story of friendship, home and faith. Hang in through the unholy capitalization and irritation, your belief in the story will be rewarded.

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review 2018-05-26 13:41
Ääh...Moment mal kurz
Lasst die Bären los - Michael Walter,John Irving

Ich bin eigentlich Fan von John Irving. Aber wenn Sätze schon mit "eigentlich" anfangen, dann kann es nicht wirklich gut enden.

Ich hatte mich sehr auf "Laßt die Bären los" gefreut. Und es ist bei mir auch nicht ungewöhnlich, dass ich bei Irvings Werken erstmal 100 Seiten brauche, um mich in seinen wirren und ausschweifenden Schreibstil einzulesen. Es passiert nicht selten, dass Dinge abstrus beschrieben werden und ganz klein, in einem unbedeutenden Nebensatz dann irgendwelche wichtigen Personen sterben oder aus dem Nichts auftauchen. Es sind nie Bücher, die man mal eben nebenbei oder im Bett liest. Aufmerksamkeit ist gefordert. Zumindest von mir.

Doch dieses Mal brauchte ich keine 100 Seiten zum Reinfinden, sondern geschmeidige 350 Seiten. Wie gut, dass das Buch über 500 davon besitzt. Da kann man ordentlich Anlauf nehmen. Ich war tatsächlich auch zu stolz um aufzugeben. Gegen Ende, als ich mich wohler mit dem Buch fühlte, machte das Lesen auch wieder Spaß. Aber die erste Hälfte war mehr Qual als Vergnügen. Die Geschichte ergab für mich keinen Sinn, ich wusste so gar nicht wohin die Reise gehen sollte. Und dann wird, nachdem man sich einigermaßen zurechtfindet, ein Zwischenteil eingeschoben, in dem es um die Vergangenheit und Vorgeschichte des einen Protagonisten geht. Nebenbei werden auch einige Irrungen und Wirrungen des 2. Weltkrieges behandelt. 

Ständig hatte ich das Gefühl, dass Irving 2936 Ideen in ein Buch packen wollte. Ein wenig anstrengend. 

Nichtsdestotrotz gehe ich nicht mit einem allzu schlechten Gefühl aus der Sache heraus. Es ging dann, falls ich mich nicht vollkommen täusche, doch um Freundschaft und Verbundenheit und um Freiheit - für Mensch und für Tier.

Eigentlich ganz schön

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text 2018-03-26 16:10
Audible 3 for 2 Sale
Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut,Tony Roberts
All Creatures Great and Small - James Herriot,Christopher Timothy
The Cider House Rules (Audio) - John Irving,Grover Gardner

I've been shopping the sales again and managed to find three titles that might be enjoyable. I think I'll save James Herriott for last because the other two might be a bit depressing.

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review 2018-01-09 20:51
The Hotel New Hampshire - John Irving

I feel a little bad for finishing this book so quickly, as John Irving spends years writing his books — in longhand, no less! — and a lot of work goes into constructing his stories, but I could not put this down. Never before I have been that enamored so soon when reading an Irving novel; typically, it takes a chapter or two until I warm up to the world he is building. Not so with The Hotel New Hampshire. I was charmed from the start.


One’s enjoyment of this novel will likely hinge on his or her threshold for ‘triggering’ subjects. Incest is arguably the heart of this book; Irving handles the topic with love and care, but I know the subject is an unpleasant one for many readers — and the author does not shy away from it; Irving handles it with his typical deftness. He wants to throttle his reader, to push him or her out of the comfort zone . . . and he accomplishes that.


On display is the typical Irving-isms: bears, New England private schools, Vienna, prostitution, sexual awakenings, sexual experimentation, shocking deaths, wacky situations. It’s John Irving; he certainly is not for everyone, but for his fans, in this hotel can be found familiar pleasures.


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