The Hotel New Hampshire is book five in my John Irving Challenge wherein I am attempting to read all of John Irving s novels in under a year s time On with the review Incest is the best Oof Just t
The Hotel New Hampshire is book five in my John Irving Challenge, wherein I am attempting to read all of John Irving's novels in under a year's time. On with the review.Incest is the best! Oof. Just typing that made my stomach flip. Incest is one of my only triggers. That and the death of very young children, kids between zero and five, their deaths just fucking wreck me, man. Incest just makes me feel ill. It's a core reaction. Not sure where the aversion stems from, if it's natural or learned, but yeah, yuck. John Irving's fifth novel was a challenging read for me. It made me reevaluate how I looked at consensual incest; family members who are a) over the age of consent and b) horny for each other. My final opinion on it hasn't changed, but it did make me consider what my stance on the subject should be, on a moral level. And my conclusion is, I will treat it like I treat the topic of abortion. More on that in a minute. The Hotel New Hampshire is a fantastically-written book. The level of emotional detail is stunning. It's heartbreaking and thought-provoking and all those other back-cover blurbs. But the thing that impacted me the most was not to my liking. That is the aforementioned incest. And, unfortunately, that is what I feel will stay with me the longest. But why is that? Let's talk about it.Why should I care what grown people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms? I don't agree with abortion, but I understand that's not my fucking place to speak. At the end of the day, how I feel about abortion does not matter. For one, I'm a man. I'll never have to put my body through a pregnancy. Secondly, I feel that abortion is a far better option than a child being raised by people who do not want it, or being raised in the system, or being raised in any other toxic environment. Thirdly, it's none of my business what other people do with their own bodies. (Is that the same thing as the first reason? Probably, but I feel it bears repeating.) So, other than it being illegal, is incest wrong if it is between two consenting adults who *shivers* want each other sexually? Fuck if I know. This discussion is too multi-layered for my pea-brain to tackle, so I'm taking the abortion-stance route. As long as it doesn't affect me, do whatever the fuck you want. Prolly best if you keep that shit on the DL though, just sayin.With or without the incest, this is a great read. I never once wanted to put it down. Due to that alone, I feel that I cannot award it any less than four stars. The only reason I'm giving it four instead of five is because I was disturbed, to my core, by John and Franny's relationship. I enjoyed nothing about it. Irving went too far, I feel, but all good literature does. I simply can't say it was a perfect read when I was dreading whole sections.Even as I type this I'm flip-flopping. But I think I'll stick with four stars. I honestly want to give it five, but I know the family-play will put some people off as much as it put me off. Yeah, okay, whatever, four stars. Maybe.Okay, for today it's four stars. Tomorrow? Who the fuck knows.In summation: A four-star read in a five-star package. The Hotel New Hampshire is wonderfully written and affecting. If you can handle sex between siblings, give it a try. It's not the entire plot, but it does take up much of the last fourth of the book. Final Judgment: I can honestly say this is the best book with an incestuous relationship that I've read.A viral The Hotel New Hampshire Creat John Irving Viral Books The first of my father s illusions was that bears could survive the life lived by human beings, and the second was that human beings could survive a life led in hotels So says John Berry, son of a hapless dreamer, brother to a cadre of eccentric siblings, and chronicler of the lives lived, the loves experienced, the deaths met, and the myriad strange and wonderful times The first of my father s illusions was that bears could survive the life lived by human beings, and the second was that human beings could survive a life led in hotels So says John Berry, son of a hapless dreamer, brother to a cadre of eccentric siblings, and chronicler of the lives lived, the loves experienced, the deaths met, and the myriad strange and wonderful times encountered by the family Berry Hoteliers, pet bear owners, friends of Freud the animal trainer and vaudevillian, that is , and playthings of mad fate, they dream on in a funny, sad, outrageous, and moving novel by the remarkable author of A Prayer for Owen Meany and Last Night in Twisted River.. JOHN IRVING was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942 His first novel, Setting Free the Bears, was published in 1968, when he was twenty six He competed as a wrestler for twenty years, and coached wrestling until he was forty seven Mr Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times winning once, in 1980, for his novel The World According to Garp He received an O Henry Award in 1981 for his short story Interior Space In 2000, Mr Irving won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules In 2013, he won a Lambda Literary Award for his novel In One Person An international writer his novels have been translated into than thirty five languages John Irving lives in Toronto His all time best selling novel, in every language, is A Prayer for Owen Meany Avenue of Mysteries is his fourteenth novel.. A viral Books The Hotel New Hampshire If you haven't read Irving yet, I think you should give him a try. This novel isn't one of his "big three", but it's damn good.First off, most Irving novels have some general characteristics:- They typically have a Dickensian plot, in which you follow the characters through large portions of their lives. The breadth of the novel typically goes through one generational span, but often you'll get (at least) a few beginning chapters detailing the lives of the protagonist's parents or grandparents, as well. - Irving writes of these lives through story telling.- He wants his readers to really get to know his characters. I've never read an Irving novel that didn't have, in my judgment, superb character development. Characters from Irving novels I read years ago still leap out at me; I still feel they are real, and that I know them. I have a love for them.- Irving rarely describes the internalized thoughts and emotions of his characters. Instead he gives the reader insight into their personalities through their reactions, styles, comments, loves, hates, interactions, and all-around preferences. He can do this because his descriptions and stories are very detailed and tend to be true to the universal life experiences we've all had in dealing with, and observing, people. Irving lets these personalities play themselves out, and trusts that the reader will come to understand the inner-core of the character as that character continues to get revealed.- These characters are often wacky... but in a likeable way. They make you laugh. Yet his protagonists are typically men who are easily relatable -- flawed, but likable. Typically the strong hero-esque roles are filled by women with strong personalities -- but not always.- When Irving's host of motley characters interact- ironic, tragic, comical, over-the-top, bizarre things happen. It doesn't seem far-fetched at the time (at least not to an Irving fan), because the characters are still believable, and the events that take place are simply extensions of their quirky personalities. Weird fates usually happen to weird people, right? It'd be weird if that weren't the case, but now we're just playing word games.... - There are a number of common themes that run through his novels: New England, Vienna, bears, prostitution, absent parents, the death of main characters, wrestling, sexual deviances, to name a few...- Irving pushes the boundaries of ridiculousness. The reader needs to have an appreciation for the absurd, and develop a level of trust with the author, because just about anything can happen. Likewise, having a trace of megalomania within, certainly doesn't hurt; especially when, at the end of the novel you find that some characters have become rock stars, famous writers, hollywood actors/actresses, etc. Or perhaps they die... or have something happen to a sex organ, or... you get it, right?And lastly, John Irving novels deal with important subject matters: abortion, faith, rape, fidelity, sexuality, war, the list goes on. When writing of this novel, another reviewer wrote this: “Once the novel jumps the shark, you realize Irving has all along been cruel and insensitive on every page of the book – on the subject of rape, on the idea of sibling sexual attraction, on the adoption of feminist concept, on political dissent, on prostitution, and on the lives of little people.” I couldn’t disagree more. Irving is very even-handed and sensitive when it comes to these topics. He, in fact, deals with them so humanly, delicately, and skillfully, that he's able to use dark humor as a way of comforting the reader. Trust me: he never downplays important subject matters; he treats them the way great authors do: with consideration, compassion, and heart.And that brings me to the big issue that it's in this novel, which is rape. There's an early chapter that details a gang rape, and it's one of the most disturbing, soul-wrenching chapters I've ever read in my life; hands down. The effects of rape recur throughout the novel. It doesn't just effect the victim, but the families and friends of the victim, as well, and all in different ways. In The Cider House Rules Irving personalized abortion for me; giving me a sick feeling in the gut when faced with the accounts of women who had to make that difficult choice before it was legal. In The Hotel New Hampshire Irving personalized the horror of rape in the same soul shaking way.Some believe this book is too wacky and unbelievable, even for Irving. Wild love triangles, incestual romantic love, two bears, a jewish performer named Freud, living in hotels, characters going blind, radicals, screwed-up taxidermy, dwarfs, lots of prostitutes. As said earlier, for me, most of the odd misadventures involved are not unrealistic, but rather natural manifestations of the novels' quirky but realistic characters. All the wild things that happen keep it entertaining. But some of the scenes do seem out of place; like they were thrown into the larger story in an unnatural fashion. The only other small qualm I have is that Irving overdoes the storytelling from time-to-time. When he artfully and heartfully gets into stories that relate to the novels' general themes, the novel wins. But when the novel gets bogged down in detailed accounts of irrelevant side stories, it loses. This novel could have been 50 to 75 pages shorter, and probably better for it.I only bring these two issues up to explain why I didn't give this novel five stars, despite my strong reaction to it, and despite my love for it. It's still a damn good book, and you should still read it; or at least pick up an Irving novel, if you haven't. (I'll tell you for a third and fourth time if I have to.)"It was the end of the summer of 1964; I hadn't been in the United States since 1957, and I knew less about my country than some of the Viennese students knew. I also knew less about Vienna than any of them. I knew about my family, I knew about our whores, and our radicals; I was an expert on The Hotel New Hampshire and an amateur at everything else."Ultimately this novel is about acceptance, and valuing the time you have on earth with those worthy of your love. It's special how Irving makes this novel work; like an almost magical piece of artwork, everything comes together to make a beautiful whole.