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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How it works in a John Irving novel is that time and location are very specific, but the words meander through them like a twisted river. Some characters are larger than life but easy to understand, because the writer gives you a mosaic of their histories and motivations. Everyday life is punctuated by big moments that you may or may not see coming. And after hundreds of pages of this, you donít want it to be over, yet the ending is a perfect fit.

As you know Iím a slow reader, so itís a testament to Last Night in Twisted River how quickly I devoured it. I lost myself in a world where you never know whether youíre in control of your own life or not. There are things you can do to stay safe and happy, but the one thing you canít do it predict how it will turn out, and what might be waiting around the bend. I found myself bounced jarringly out of complacency more than once, just like in real life. Thatís what happens when you get attached to characters and invested in their lives. You live along with them.

1 December 2009

In fact, thatís why I read fiction. Sometimes I think itís because my own life has so few great moments, but really, if you distill anyoneís life down to those times when everything is heightened reality, you probably have a novel. What youíd need would be a novelist like Irving to turn it into a story. Everybody has a story.

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