Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Review of Until I Find You
It's safe to say that I'm working my way steadily through the oeuvre of John Irving. As I've mentioned reading Last Night in Twisted River & The Cider House Rules, it was honestly In One Person & The World According to Garp that made me a huge fan of his.
I've read in a review that most Irving fans are going so far they like everything about him and don't stand for anyone telling them differently.
Now I want to review the fifth novel I've read by him, which by no means is as splendid as Garp or as bleak as Twisted River or even as wretched as In One Person, but has its own merits all the same.
Until I find you is a story about a boy whose mother has been left behind by his father before he was born. Being a toddler he remembers being dragged from one place to another in search of his father, meanwhile his mother working for different tattoo artists, since she has the skill herself.
Later on he becomes a movie star and while he acts for a living, he desperately tries to find out who he really is.
Jack Burns is a troubled character, who might have things happening to him that never befall another. He's molested, although he doesn't realise, he's tricked, but finds out much later and he's trying very hard to not be the somewhat queer guy he is. He breaks through in showbizz playing a transsexual, which is out of the ordinary, which could also be said of him living together with his best friend, Emma, who had taught him to masturbate and likes to hold his penis in her hand while going to the cinema.
Jack is surrounded by people as broken as he is, and living in fairy tale land doesn't improve his sense of self-importance.
The novel tells the entire story of Jack, everything is from his point of view. His meek following, his downfall, his ressurection, its all very personal and subjective.
As Jack isn't as strong a character as Garp or Homer were - maybe he's too succesful - but he has something about him that draws you in.
Until I find you is again a good novel from an author I've come to admire much, but it's not faultless. I notice recurring themes which are wonderful the first time around, but as Stephen King once wrote in one of his novels. You've got to write what you know, so I know I'm going to read more about wrestling in other novels by Irving. It's like baseball in King novels, too bad both sports mean nothing at all to me so I can't picture a double Nelson at all even though I get a pretty good description of why it can' t be used.
The only thing that bothered me about this novel and truth be told it got a little under my skin in Garp too, is the ending. As Jack in search of the truth about his father, the novel ends with him finding him and even finding a place where he could be happy. It bothered me because everything about Jack is how he'll never be happy. Jack feels like a true enough character, but the way he suddenly turns a 180° is annoying. It would've been better if he had popped a pill just before announcing he might have found home. Maybe a truly realistic ending wouldn't work in a novel, because nothing is ever completely solved. There are always loose ends, you just need to be careful not to trip over them.
So, in the end I might be among Irving's fans that love everything he publishes, but I'm still able to honestly say that Until I find you can't be counted among his best. I love the deep meaningfull insights in another person's life, but the ending bothers me in every one of his novels. Well, Stephen King isn't a master of endings either and he's still my favourite author. It's again safe to say that the same can be said about Irving.
Personal score: 8 out of 10.