13 of 13 people found the following review helpful:
September 11, 2005
In sports, especially boxing, there are always those formerly great athletes who stick around too long for one last season or one last fight and in the process tarnish their legacy by revealing themselves to be merely ordinary. Starting with his last book, "The Fourth Hand" and continuing with "Until I Find You", John Irving is tarnishing his reputation as a great author of books like "The World According to Garp", "The Cider House Rules", and "A Prayer for Owen Meany." For a huge fan of
The book gets off to a pretty good start with 4-year-old Jack traveling to Scandinavia with
But then it takes
The most controversial aspect of the book, the sexual abuse of Jack at the hands of a Portuguese nanny and to a lesser extent the sister of his mother's girlfriend, serves no real purpose in relation to the overall story. It's almost as if it came from another novel and somehow got mixed in. There was so much talk about Jack's "little guy" at this point in the book I seriously thought of not finishing. I found the almost constant discussion of 9-year-old Jack's "little guy" to be more disturbing than just about all the gore and debauchery in "American Psycho", the book I read before this. Not just because it was talking about child abuse, but because it didn't seem to ADD anything to the story. What did this have to do with Jack's missing father or mother? Granted if he had a mother and father looking after him maybe he wouldn't have been abused, but it didn't really help move the story forward.
Mixed in with the child abuse during Jack's elementary school years at St. Hilda's mostly girl's school are several ham-handed attempts to create humorous situations. The writing here is so self-conscious and obvious that I found myself groaning. The worst refers to one teacher who was born in a hurricane and
After the child abuse, and mandatory New England prep schools--Exeter again!--and wrestling, Jack goes to Hollywood and even wins John Irving's Oscar for Best Screen Adaptation in 2000. None of this matters. Again, it's just a lot of filler. John Irving does not seem the logical choice to play an actor. Make no mistake about it, Jack Burns is a thinly-veiled John Irving. My personal theory is so much of the filler happens to Jack Burns because it happened to John Irving.
Therein lies the problem for me as a reader. In his own books--"The World According to Garp" and "A Widow for One Year"--
After the book plods along through the wilderness of Jack's life for 600 pages, it finally gets back to the point when Jack goes back to Europe and realizes that his mom was the bad guy, turning him against his father for all those years. Then Jack meets his long-lost sister and finally meets his father. Unfortunately, at that point the book ends, just when it was getting interesting.
I would have liked to see a lot more of Jack with his sister and father, to see if they could really make things work and become some kind of family unit. This might have been possible if there hadn't been so much filler taken from
After the subpar "The Fourth Hand" and even lesser effort of "Until I Find You", there is little doubt to me that