Written by Rob Merrill Associated Press
After 54 years and 15 novels, John Irving has finally done it. He’s written a book that’s longer than most Moby-Dick editions. And by the time you’ve finished reading it, you’ll chuckle every time you see the hyphen in your Melville address.
It’s hard to do justice to this book in a short review. Every Irving fan will read it, and even readers trying to try The World According to Garp will find it for the first time an accessible introduction to the New England-born novelist whose work has always been peppered with serious themes, such as religion, sex, and politics, tempered by a fair dose of irony and absurdity. Narrators in granular and realistic prose.
At its core, “The Last Chairlift” is a love story, telling almost the entire life story of its narrator, Adam Brewster, himself a writer growing up in Exeter, New Hampshire, who wrestles, becomes a acclaimed novelist, wins an Academy Award and gains Canadian citizenship, no different About Irving himself. But as narrator Adam admits: “Real life is very sloppy—it is full of chance. Things just happen, random things that have nothing to do with each other. In a good imagination, isn’t everything related to everything else?”
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In “The Last Chairlift,” Irving tries to do both – tell a fictional story full of random events, but make it feel like nothing is ever random in hindsight, as Adam connects us all.
At the beginning of the book, Adam does not know who his biological father is. His mother falls in love with an English teacher at Exeter Academy, whom Adam admires for his diminutive stature and his dislike of downhill skiing. Henceforth, the man, whose full name is Elliot Barlow, is often referred to as an “ice hunter”. (Adam’s mother, named Little Ray, is also very young. She’s a ski instructor, always doing rushes and walling around the house and moving for the winter months to live in Manchester, New Hampshire, near Ski Mountain that pays the bills.)
Without spoiling too much, it turns out Ray doesn’t really like men anymore, if she used to be, and while “Snowshoe” has been a constant companion for the rest of her days and a father figure to Adam, it’s a ski ranger named Molly who captured Little Ray’s heart.
Sex is a frequent topic of discussion and a driver of the plot. There is extraordinary candor among Adam’s extended family about his formative sexual experiences, which are narrated in great detail and remembered at various stages of his life.
There’s also an encounter that even a “white whale wouldn’t survive” overheard by guests at Little Ray’s wedding on a snowshoe, and while the narration traces Adam’s life, chronologically, he survives through the sexually charged political moments in history – from Roe v. Wade to President Reagan ignoring the AIDS crisis to the sexual exploitation of children scandal in the Catholic Church.
Oh, and don’t forget the ghosts! The novel begins and ends with a reference to them and they play all kinds of roles in between.
A real-life establishment in Aspen, Colorado, called the Jerome Hotel, is haunted by important characters in Adam’s life, many of which have appeared in a pair of scenarios he writes that are included in the novel, but are based on his real life. life. Scenario line spacing helps convert 889 pages faster.
It’s not that you want to finish “The Last Chairlift,” exactly, but that you want to see where all the characters end up after that last ride up the mountain.