I've read several Irving works, including THE WOLRD ACCORDING TO GARP and A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY, but this, for me is his truly great work. I think it goes without saying that Irving is one of the most talented writers to date; his narratives are strong and his work is almost always character drive, something I find in the novels of Jackson McCrae and Saul Bellow. Also, he somehow manages to show us the underside of humanity without us feeling violated. He manages this perfectly in HOTEL. With a little of everything from adolescent angst, to a bear, to the family's travails in various places, HOTEL is a myriad of fun, sadness, and a family saga that is like no other. As I said before, Irving's works are character driven, and of course you're going to find odd characters, just as you would in McCrae's BARK OF THE DOGWOOD (which is outstanding, by the way), or in the works of Palahniuk. But Irving gives his characters something no one else does, and it's a "can't quite put my finger on it" something that makes them so real, so alive, that when you finish the book, you're sad to have to close the pages. Now, there are some parts of the book that are REALLY going to turn some people off, such as the brother-sister thing that goes on. Frankly, I'm shocked more people haven't written about this, but somehow Irving pulls even this taboo topic off. One of the things I like about his books, and this one in particular, is the fact that he gives us the story, then steps back and lets us decide about the characters and what's happened. A sort of Ibsen approach to the text. In this way he takes the element of himself out of the story and all that's left is the narrative. While this is certainly not a new book, I highly recommend it, along with the novels BARK OF THE DOGWOOD and the ever popular THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER, both which are very good and will keep you flipping the pages. Also anything else by Irving.