Certainly Jack Burns, the hero of Mr. Irving's bloated and lugubrious new novel, is a victim in spades - and then some.
Not an auspicious start for a good or even mediocre review. And the final paragraph is this brutal sentence:
Jack's "melancholic logorrhea" might yield some useful therapeutic results, but in terms of storytelling, it makes for a tedious, self-indulgent and cruelly eye-glazing read.
Now I find myself in a bit of a quandary because I have literally read every word that John Irving has every published. I am probably one of a dozen or so people who really loved "The Fourth Hand." So, do I trust in the New York Times and Michiko Kakutani and skip this book, or do I risk extreme disappointment? The book is 800 plus pages so its going to be fairly time consuming should I decide to take the risk. My gut instinct is telling me to wait for it to come out in paperback, but read it anyway. At least the financial risk will be less.
Speaking of books, I am halfway through "A Long Way Down" by Nick Hornby. So far so good. I'm not overwhelmed with loving it. I can put it down, but I do find myself wondering about the characters and I am not at all sure where they will end up, which is a good thing. Hornby is a lot like Irving in that his characters do detestable things and yet we still feel sympathy for them. They become more than just their label in his words.