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3.1 out of 5 stars
Until I Find You
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2005
This turgid lump of a novel continues the sad decline in Mr. Irving's work that we saw with <i> The Fourth Hand</i>. It was a chore to finish, and I would have given up, except that Mr. Irving has written so many great books, I kept expecting this one to get better or for something clever and great to happen. It really never does.
The story follows the life and career of Jack Burns, a successful movie actor with a troubled childhood. When the story opens, Jack is a child who has been abandoned by his father and living with his mother, a relatively famous tattoo artist. The stage seems set for the sort of quirky characters and situations which Mr. Irving writes so well. But what follows is a lot of stuff we've seen before, and in better Irving books: Jack spends time at an all boys school in Maine, he is a talented member of the wrestling team (in one of the smaller weight divisions), we journey through the Red Light District in Amsterdam not once, but twice.
But the books greatest weakness is that none of the characters act or talk like real people. John Irving has always been able to create unusual characters and make them credible. This does not happen here. Almost every woman young Jack meets wants to or does) rape him, every character seems to use the word 'penis' conversationally at least a dozen times and Jack Burns is the center of every other character's existence, no matter how trivial his contact with those characters has been.
Hardly anything seems to be credible. Jack's movies (which sound dreadful) are all successful, his companion Emma's novel (which sounds unreadable) is a huge hit. The sequence at the Academy Awards comes off as terribly self indulgent.
Stay away from this book. As Billy Rainbow might say, it blows, and not in a good way.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2007
This is the first book of John Irving that I have read and I have been truly enjoying it. I looked at the size of the book and hesitated starting it but once I got into it I got hooked.

I think that the story can relate better to guys and those that enjoy trips into peoples darker (real) side exposing who they are and why. The author writes in a manner that I am enjoying and I like how he tells the story twice; once as remembered by a four year old (as it happens) and the second time as the adult speaking to those involved. He finds out that reality was not what he was told and remembers.

It is obviously a story that you either love or hate as displayed by the reviews; I am on the side of loving it and encourage you to see for yourself. I will be reading other John Irving books as a result of Until I Find You.
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on February 17, 2010
Very quirky indeed, like Irving's other work, only more so. It's the life story of Jack, and starts with his perceptions of his mother and father as a 4 year old boy, then takes us through his adolescence and young adulthood, giving insight into the pain of sexual abuse he suffers along the way.

The reviews so far miss a couple of insights I particularly enjoyed:

1. That memory is elastic, unreliable, changeable. The story starts with one premise, and then upends the reader halfway through with the opposite premise. WE are actually given the memory of a 4 year old, locked into our thinking for several hundred powerfully written pages, and then as new information comes in for Jack, we find the certainty of those 4 year old's memories crumbling.

2. I felt new insight into what it might be like to be a young person suffering sexual abuse. The primary emotion is not anger, as I would have thought, but confusion and passivity. Irving gets inside Jack's confusion and passivity in a way that is sure to make readers uncomfortable, and I think that's the gift of the book.

So, for what it's worth, a nice solid "4" for me.
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on August 9, 2005
John Irving's newest offering - UNTIL I FIND YOU - is a somewhat of a surprise gift. It's highly anticipated and the result with anything so highly anticipated is either total joy or total disappointment. I personal loved every bitter word of the sad story. It truly is on the same level with MY FRACTURED LIFE - the same disection of the abuse that fosters the narcasist personality that can sturggles to survive in any world but the shallow hollow world of Hollywood; yet in that world thrives in sad glory. In that light, this book shines with a brilliance few other authors come close to. Those who shy from such sad and brital brilliance will be terribly disappointed, of course. But those who adore it and thrive on its dark flavor will embrace UNTIL I FIND YOU with the same passion.
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on January 5, 2009
I am a big fan of Irving's books normally. I find his characters very quirky, yet believable, and they usually draw me right in. This book, which I've heard is based partly on Irving's own life, doesn't do that. The main character starts off as a 4 year old boy, and throughout the book he has women all wanting him. I found it hard to believe that a small boy could sexually attract everyone from early grade student girls, to nuns, and any other female alive. At any rate, the character didn't ring true to me, and this made the book very hard to get through.
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on December 19, 2012
You need to be an avid reader to get through this 800 page book. I wondered why it had to be so long, but this story takes us to other parts of the world and gave me a better understanding of why people get tatoos.
I laughed, cried, enjoyed reading and then cried some more at the end. Don't be in a hurry to get through this one. I'll re-read it as I tend to speed read and skim over parts. This is the third J. Irving book I've read since September and I loved every one.
C.Leeman
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It was alright. John Irving seems to be re-writing his own story the way he wished it had happened--the hairy sexually dominant older girl, for example. But a few things were left sloppy and the author's voice could be so frustrating. As with all John Irving novels, I wanted to shout at him for drawing all the wrong conclusions about people, yet I couldn't put the book down.

For more please visit my blog, CozyLittleBookJournal!
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on August 8, 2005
"UNTIL I FIND YOU" is extremely graphic. It details the emotional abuse of a boy by his misguided mother and the sexual abuse from other girls as the result of his mother's neglect. The end result is a man lost in the glitz of Hollywood. Although it lacks some of the same dark humor, fans of the contemporary classic "MY FRACTURED LIFE" will be equally impressed with "UNTIL I FIND YOU".
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2006
...it's a 'chronicle', and therefore, fails miserably to entertain as it might have."

As Diane Lane's character says in 'Must Love Dogs': "This is disturbing on *so* many levels..."

My then-gal and I were exiting an Irving reading in Toronto just over a decade ago, both laughing 'Now *there's* a therapist's wet-dream!' This has been confirmed in 'Until I find you'. Not that everything a writer puts on the page is necessarily reflective of their psyche, but if there had ever been any question about them up to this point, this novel surely nails just about all of Mr Irving's 'issues'.

But you know, it's not the subject matter I took issue with as I *forced* myself to complete 'Until'. It's the fact that it's really just a -seemingly- endless procession of 'and then this happened, and then this, and then this'... Let me put it this way, and maybe this is *all* I need to say:

If this had been written by a newcomer, it *never* would have been published.

I could go on and on, but I can see by the other reviewers' comments that either a) we had an entirely different experience (I can't for the life of me understand what anyone who liked/loved it saw in it!) or b) they're far better equipped to point out just why 'Until I find you' failed so miserably to entertain.

I'm a writer, and Mr Irving used to be in my personal 'Hall of Fame', one of the writers I looked up to, even aspired to write as well as. Now... Now I don't know what to think. I feel disappointed, I feel betrayed, I feel incredibly angry.

Would I recommend this novel? Only to writers as an example of what *not* to do when trying to tell and engaging story. Only as a paragon of self-indulgence. Only as proof that as your literary rep rises, you're cut more and more slack.

If it turned out that 'Until I find you' (renamed by me 'Until I finish reading you') was a piss-take by Irving, I wouldn't be surprised. I think I'd actually feel some relief.

Right. I'm now tempted to re-read 'Winter's Tale' by Helprin or 'Fall on My Knees' by AMM to clean my palate and reaffirm my belief in the power of storytelling to transform us.
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Irving's worst book to date and I've read them all....Hopefully just a bump in the road for him although The Fourth Hand was pretty lame as well. Hopefully he can regain the form that brought us Son of the Circus and A Widow for a Year.
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