I don’t know what I could say about Last Night in Twisted River that hasn’t already been said — John Irving is one of those writers who, I think, writes literary fiction but literary fiction that is read by a mass audience.

Last Night in Twisted Riveris about three men of the same family – a cook for a logging settlement, his son, and then the son’s son. When the book starts, the cook is a young man, the son only 12 years old, and the narrative moves on from there, but not in a traditional point A to point B story line. It’s like the characters are little blurs moving down that A to B line, jumping back and forth in the story, but only slightly. It’s an effective story telling method, and even though this book took me a very long time to read (in comparison to how fast I usually read), I enjoyed it thoroughly.

I almost put it aside, though, given its graphic nature and how often death invades the story. My grandmother died recently and then, less then a week later, a friend suddenly and far too young. John Irving, I thought, was too much. But I found myself drawn more into the story instead, like reading the book, even though far from cheerful, pulled me away from the sadness around me. Hard to explain.

Thanks to my dad and stepmom getting me Last Night in Twisted River: A Novel for Christmas. I really wanted to read it, and I’m glad I did, and at this time in my life.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.

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