In 1954, in the cookhouse of a logging and sawmill settlement in northern New Hampshire, an anxious twelve-year-old boy mistakes the local constable’s girlfriend for a bear. Both the twelve-year-old and his father become fugitives, forced to run from Coos County – to Boston, to southern Vermont, to Toronto – pursued by the implacable constable. Their lone protector is a fiercely libertarian logger, once a river driver, who befriends them.
In a story spanning five decades, Last Night in Twisted River – John Irving’s twelfth novel – depicts the recent half-century in the United States as “a living replica of Coos County, where lethal hatreds were generally permitted to run their course.” From the novel’s taut opening sentence – “The young Canadian, who could not have been more than fifteen, had hesitated too long” – to its elegiac final chapter, Last Night in Twisted River is written with the historical authenticity and emotional authority of The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany. It is also as violent and disturbing a story as John Irving’s breakthrough bestseller, The World According to Garp.
What further distinguishes Last Night in Twisted River is the author’s unmistakable voice – the inimitable voice of an accomplished storyteller. Near the end of this moving novel, John Irving writes: “We don’t always have a choice how we get to know one another. Sometimes, people fall into our lives cleanly – as if out of the sky, or as if there were a direct flight from Heaven to Earth – the same sudden way we lose people, who once seemed they would always be part of our lives.”