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Until I Find Youby John Irving
Synopses & Reviews
"According to his mother, Jack Burns was an actor before he was an actor, but Jack's most vivid memories of childhood were those moments when he felt compelled to hold his mother's hand. He wasn't acting then."
So begins John Irving's eleventh novel, Until I Find You — the story of the actor Jack Burns. His mother, Alice, is a Toronto tattoo artist. When Jack is four, he travels with Alice to several North Sea ports; they are trying to find Jack's missing father, William, a church organist who is addicted to being tattooed. But Alice is a mystery, and William can't be found. Even Jack's memories are subject to doubt.
Jack Burns goes to schools in Canada and New England, but what shapes him are his relationships with older women. John Irving renders Jack's life as an actor in Hollywood with the same richness of detail and range of emotions he uses to describe the tattoo parlors in those North Sea ports and the reverberating music Jack heard as a child in European churches.
The author's tone — indeed, the narrative voice of this novel — is melancholic. ("In increments both measurable and not, our childhood is stolen from us — not always in one momentous event but often in a series of small robberies, which add up to the same loss.") Until I Find You is suffused with overwhelming sadness and deception; it is also a robust and comic novel, certain to be compared to John Irving's most ambitious and moving work.
"No John Irving novel is any easy read; he'd rather take the long way home than the easy path. Yet it's always an unpredictable journey, and once you emerge from the emotional briar patch, you find yourself sad that it's over, and ready to take the trip again." Rocky Mountain News
"Until I Find You, an often stunningly visual novel, is burdened by bloat. One can easily imagine a pared-down, vivid film version." Los Angeles Times
"[A] bloated and lugubrious new novel....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." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"On the surface, the book seems to be a galloping sexual bildungsroman. And yet, beneath the farce, a slow undercurrent of sorrow makes itself felt....[There] might be [an] intriguing 300-page novel secreted inside this sprawling, uneven one." Chicago Tribune
"Irving's 11th novel may disappoint longtime fans — this is a quieter, more contemplative journey than his previous works, requiring some patience and reflection....[A] rewarding and meaningful experience." Library Journal
"[T]he book's second half is so much more lively, you can't help but wish Irving had packed even bigger chunks of Hollywood into this jumbo volume....
"At more than 800 pages, Until I Find You takes the crown for the best longest novel of recent years....Irving lays on a lot of charming comedy." San Francisco Chronicle
"All in all, this is a wonderfully thought-provoking book. Despite its length and heft (I was afraid of dropping it on my foot), its artistry is so compelling that I'm considering reading it again. How weird is that?" Chicago Sun-Times
"It does go on and on, and someone, somewhere in the production line at Garp Enterprises, Ltd., should have advised John Irving not to rush to print until he'd crafted pain into art, as he's done so masterfully before." Marianne Wiggins, The Washington Post
"Some novels are simply too long, and this is one of them. The framework of the plot cannot support so much detail and so many prolonged scenes....
In this absorbing and moving book about obsession and loss, truth and storytelling, Jack seeks a sense of identity and father figures while accommodating a host of overbearing and elaborately dysfunctional women.
About the Author
John Irving has won an O. Henry Award, a National Book Award, and an Oscar. Until I Find You is his eleventh novel. He lives in Vermont and Toronto.
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