- John Irving -
Irving's mastery at characterization is unparalleled and it is apparent in this novel, where each of the characters seem so real and consistent and ultimately, because of that consistency, frustrating.
Homer's ambivalance, Candy's fear of doing the wrong thing or hurting anyone, Melony's anger - all of these traits permeate the story and stay with the characters all way through and it ultimately becomes frustrating, particular in the case of Homer and Candy, where they appear to not know how to allow themselves to be happy or stand up for what they want.
It is an enjoyable and engrossing read - one in which you can sink into the story and characters and feel completely immersed, but I ultimately find in frustrating that there is no emotional pay off, no confrontations as Angel learns his true parentage, as Wally finally acknowledges the unspoken truths of their lives and as Candy and Homer seperate for good - it's all rushed through in the last few chapters with none of the depth of exploration of the earlier parts of the book.
I do unequivocally appreciate Irvings' portrayal of abortion in all its complexities and shades of grey: he portrays it equally as both tragic and necessary in an imperfect world, and the ambiguities are wrestled with through Homer's struggles in a very human and realistic way. Seeing Homer move beyond his black and white view of the issues to accept the more complex view is very satisfying.