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The Fourth Hand [Hardcover]

John Irving
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (195 customer reviews)

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Book by Irving, John

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Fourth Hand Feb. 6 2006
By Lee-Ann
Great weekend read. Can't take the book seriously, it is definitely "tongue-in-cheek" humour. My first John Irving novel and I can't wait to read another one.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Give That Man A Hand--NOT! Oct. 6 2003
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
This book clinches it -- John Irving is very overrated. This book was mildly entertaining at first but quickly became tedious, irritating, and a waste of time to read. I ended the book with an overwhelming feeling of "so what?" Don't waste your time!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Weak. June 18 2003
This book could certainly win the 'Write a Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan romantic comedy in the style of a John Irving novel.' competition, but other than that couldn't win anything.
Three stars, because even at his worst John Irving is better than most of what's being published today.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another First Class Effort Aug. 20 2002
Format:Audio CD
Ever since "The World According to Garp," John Irving has been one of my favorite philosophers. His work in "The Fourth Hand" has not caused me to change my mind. Irving's ability to create funny and three-dimensional characters, while making thoughtful commentary on the human condition, is unparalleled in modern literature. Patrick Wallingford, Irving's mutilated protagonist, is a shallow, womanizing pretty-boy who, nevertheless, grows as a person before our eyes. The woman who becomes the love of his life, Doris Clausen, is good hearted and sexy, but preternaturally weird.
Nobody does set pieces that are both funny and poignant, and full of both bitterness and love, than Irving. He does it again here. His description of Wallingford's tryst with a gum-chewing makeup girl, and its attendant complications, is worth the price of the book. Irving's side of the mouth dismissal of cable news as shallow, callous, insincere, and intrusive is right on the mark, too, it seems to me.
Irving's usual devices, maiming, violent death, the love of a child, wild animals (lions this time, not bears) and circuses are in evidence here. Nobody understands the chaos that is life better than Irving, but his optimism and his obvious love for his characters make that recognition fun and instructive, not off-putting.
I heard this book on tape. Jason Culp, who reads this audio book is very effective. Finally, I give this Irving outing 4 stars out of 5 instead of 5 out of 5 only because of his obsession with Wallingford's hand. Although Irving has used traumatic amputations in other books, they have never before been the central theme of any one of them, as is the case in "The Fourth Hand." In fact, it is for this reason that I (uncharacteristically for a John Irving novel) waited as long as I did to read it. I highly recommended it, anyway.
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4.0 out of 5 stars one hand clapping! June 12 2002
By jedbird
Format:Audio Cassette
First, my review is of the unabridged audiocassette and ONLY the cassette version. I have a feeling I would have hated this had I tried to read it myself. In the middle of a hurried cross-country road trip, I had to choose between this and a bunch of self-help twaddle and this seemed the lesser evil, despite Mr. Irving's often self-consciously quirky output.
As it turned out, I loved having this story read to me. I loved the voice of the narrator and particularly his interpretation of Doris Clausen's Middle American tones. There are many (MANY) points in the story where I would have been compelled to put a book down forcefully, never to be picked up again, had I actually been reading it. However, instead of yanking the cassette out of the player and hurling it out onto the highway, I laughed. I ENJOYED myself. This book is chock full of situations just as smugly and predictably unpredictable as the worst of Mr. Irving's MANY authorial excesses, but it just doesn't hurt a bit when you don't have to read it yourself. Through the voice of Mr. Culp, what I am sure is a mediocre, self-conscious, meandering mess on paper is magically transformed into light, charming entertainment with a touch of real pathos.
Once the road trip was over, I saw the paperback of _Widow For One Year_ and thought I'd give actually reading Mr. Irving another try. I got about 4 pages into it before abandoning it. I liked _Owen Meany_ and _Garp_ and _Cider House_ - you know, his GOOD books. _Fourth Hand_ is probably not one of the good books, but it makes a delightful traveling companion nonetheless.
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3.0 out of 5 stars better than some, not as good as others June 5 2002
this book was good but it didn't knock my socks off. mr irving is one of my favorite writers but this novel seemed like it was rushed to the printers. the typical irving humor was at work in this one but without the depth of his previous novels. although i have only read about half of his books, i would rank "the cider house rules", "a prayer for owen meany" and "a widow for one year" ahead of this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, but not Irving's best May 10 2002
By A Customer
At a mere 300-some pages, this feels like a short story from Irving. It didn't have the broad sweep of the history of the world that is so characteristic of Irving's works from "Garp" and on. And the ending was a suprise for him, violating one of his own rules for authors as discussed in his autobiography, "Piggy Sneed." Still, fun, fun, fun.
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1.0 out of 5 stars What a load of rubbish ..................... April 29 2002
This is quite clearly the worse book I have ever read. Was this some sort of joke or was Irving also high on the drug that was administered to the main character when he lost his hand. I still don't get it - the whole book was a load of utter rubbish with every second page being taken up with 'hard-ons' and 'erections' For goodness sake,Irving grow up - who the heck wants to read trash like this.
This book is NOT recommended by me - in fact don't even accept it as a gift, you'll be VERY sorry if you do!
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