Thursday, February 7, 2008

Until I Find You by John Irving

I finished this book several days ago, but it's taken some time to get my head around it. Protagonist Jack Burns is four years old at the book's outset, and his story is told by a third-person omniscient narrator. Fifty pages in, with the narrator going to great pains to make narrative allowances and over-explain things, it occurred to me that I might be in for a long read.

The story spans several decades, and begins by following Jack and his mom as they search for his father through Europe. Failing to find him, Jack grows up and eventually becomes a movie actor. But his unknown father remains a draw, and the story circles back to Jack again searching for his father, whom he finally locates.

This book has received a lot of criticism. Some of it (for reasons already mentioned) are understandable. Others I don't agree with. For example, some reviews called the book "strange." And while I agree some of the sexual matters are a bit odd, it's a John Irving book! He's the master of melding deviant with heartfelt. It's what he's made his career on.

"Until I find You" was a compelling story that I simply had to keep reading. Which, for some, is the essential measure of a book.

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