Sometimes I get personal - some would perhaps say 'unprofessional'. I am getting personal now.

Not exactly a new book, this one, but I have in the past year of doing reviews for W3M3 noticed that the book section may never be thoroughly up-to-date in the way the film- and music sections are, so it's basically just a modest selection of good books that have been read. So the fact that this book is approaching its second decade won't deter me.

John Irving is a feelgood writer. Even in the novels where half the protagonists die by the end, you put the finished book down with a feeling of gladness. Not only is Irving a technically gifted writer, the stories he tells are interesting, worth telling and full of astute observations and, importantly, humour. I have yet to read a book by John Irving that I didn't like, and by now I've read quite a few ("Garp", "Owen Meany", "Ciderhouse Rules" and "Son of the Circus").

"The Hotel New Hampshire" is not the longest of Irving's books, but in the limited number of about 450 pages he manages to conjure up a whole universe of experiences surrounding the Berry family. As in all Irving novels, there is a lot of emotion and love - and death, too, and some sex. Damn, Irving's writing is just so human. I can hear you thinking, almost, "hey, isn't that the guy who writes appraising reviews of black metal bands who go on about death, war and all that is vile?" Yeah, I guess you're right. But there's also a different side to me, the different side that so much appreciates these beautiful books by, well, this beautiful writer. The different part that somehow made my wife fall in love with me, heck, even marry me.

When I put the book down my throat was constricted and there was moistness in my eyes. Damn, that book was good.

Released 1981, ISBN 067-168794-8



Written June 1999


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