The life story of a logging-camp cook and his son. The theme of how accidents shape and change our lives runs through this story, as well as the usual Irving themes of loss, sex, and male relationships. The tale follows the two on a journey through the northeast, as they try to escape their past.
This novel presents a nice snapshot of American history, from 1954 - present. This could be Irving's most political novel to date, as he once again explores the issues of the Vietnam war; or more succinctly, the moral dilemmas presented by not going to war.
Narrative, 3rd person.
The first one-third of this book was interesting, and the characters slowly developed into colorful, living people. However, Irving sucked the life right out of them when he decided to congratulate himself for being a writer, by making the central character a writer, and telling us how insightful he was at every turn. His characters, even the central ones, went flat, became unlikable, and were horribly annoying. Danny, the writer, was hollow, soulless, and worst of all, boring. I wanted to throw him down a flight of stairs. Danny's dad, Dominic, wasn't much better. He became, along with his son, creepier as the novel wore on (and on, and on...). The only likable and full-realized character in the book was Ketchum, the grizzled, hard-living lumberjack. But somehow, Irving even managed to make him a bit annoying as well. Overall, this was an indulgent, overlong book, that desperately cried out for an editor with the balls to cut it by 100 pages. I could go on with how mind-numbing this thing actually was after about the half-way mark, but I've given it enough of my time. This was one of the few books that has actually made me mad enough to throw it across the room (a distinction shared by a Ludlam novel, and *"Martin Chuzzlewit." Owen Meany it wasn't. *Chuzzlewit eventually won me over.
Book Reviewed by Jim Smith
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