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A Voice in the Wilderness

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. -- William O. Douglas

Saturday, May 29, 2010

John Irving's, "The Fourth Hand" - My Review

This story, with all its unlikely characters and the attendant twists and turns, has John Irving's mark all over it. John Irving is with out a doubt, my favorite living American writer. It therefore comes as no surprise that I would find this book enjoyable.

For me, the characters are believable and their stories come together to reveal the intricacies that tie them all to one another. Patrick Wallingford is a sympathetic enough character in that his initial shallowness makes him someone whom I would like to see get his comeuppances. However, the accident which he had a hand in (pardon the pun) proves to be a point of embarkation where he realizes that such a devastating loss leads to immeasurable rewards.

I found the back story about the 'faux' news network to be particularly apropos because Irving was able to project an absurd sense of reality to an otherwise inane albeit acceptable genre of entertainment in American culture today; news.

Mary Shannahan's character was someone who I loved to hate - not so much because of her gender but because of her ceaseless, raw ambition which defies everything her television personality puts forward. It is a matter of image versus substance - the entire theme of this book - who we are as opposed to who we want people to believe that we are.

For anyone who feels jaded by what comes across as news nowadays, this is definitely a book for you. For those who fail to see the irony in news which really isn't; this may not be the book for you. Such critics of this story who point to the unbelievability of such a story as, "The Fourth Hand," are likely to pan it because, "The Fourth Hand" fails to follow a prescribed script more akin to what can be routinely found on any given cable news channel.

Ignore the naysayers and read the book. It is good and stands on its own.

As an aside, I'll definitely be picking up, "The English Patient," and "Stewart Little" - the two books Irving mentioned in this story.

I enjoy picking up on the ongoing side bar commentary he seems to offer to anyone who is paying enough attention to what he has to say - aside from the obvious story line in his other books. His delivery is subtle and unmistakably John Irving. I suppose this why I enjoy his writing so much.


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