Until I Find You, by John Irving.
Any John Irving book comes with hype, as this one did. This one also comes with a big yawn. I’m 200 pages in and my only reaction to it is, if there are such things as “chick flicks” this is a “past-middle-age male read.”
Apart from being extremely slow reading, Irving has fallen into the same mold as many other aging authors such as Heinlein, Donaldson, Anthony and many more: an obsession with treating women as nasty sexual objects. In this case, it’s the story of a man –Jack Burns– who’s been shaped by his growing up amid girls and women who either neglect, abuse (sexually and mentally), ignore, or horrify him. The women around him are so self-centered that they have no room for the emotional well-being of a little boy, but they have no problem using and abusing him. I presume that the story continues on with women throughout his life continuing the pattern.
If that is not enough, Irving tell us at the beginning, with an epigraph by William Maxwell, that memories, especially childhood memories, can only be fiction and lies. He then proceeds, in the next few hundred pages, to narrate Jack Burns’s early memories, starting at four years old. Then there is this continuous repetition that, in later years, Jack would never forget this or that, which smacks of the writer trying to convince us that, indeed, Jack will be able to remember everything in his life, regardless of how early it is.
Now, the book may improve upon reading further, and all this history may have a purpose. However, after 200 pages, I’m still in primary school with Jack and I’m still not sure what the story is about, except proving that women, in general, are self-centered, ineffective shits.
Too many books and not enough time.