|Copyright Simon & Schuster, Garp Enterprises 2012|
I love Mr Irving's writing style - personal, leisurely, self-deprecating, witty, but also confronting and at times raunchy. He peoples his novels with rich, quirky characters. You won't forget in a hurry Bill's cross dressing grandfather or the crusty old wrestling coach Herm Hoyt. This book is written in first person - the life of a Bill Abbott, a bisexual writer, stretching from the late 50's in New England (surprise, surprise) to New York City in the middle of the 1980's AIDS crisis through to present day. It contains more dialogue than I remember in other Irving books. I have read only read 6 of his 13 novels: "The World According to Garp", "The Hotel New Hampshire", "Last Night in Twisted River", "A Widow for One Year" and "The Fourth Hand". The last two on my list are my favourites - full of haunting descriptions and rich prose.
Mr Irving has the ability to blend tragedy with wild humour. His plea for tolerance of diversity and respect for individuality is done with style, rather than beating the reader over the head with it. It's also a page-turner, taking the reader to San Francisco, New York, rural Vermont, Vienna and Madrid. You want to find out the fate of Bill's friends and family. This is a passionate and intensely moral book. Life is complicated. People are complicated - so show compassion.