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Until I Find You


Adam Kirsch briefly reviews John Irving's Until I Find You for the New Yorker, joining the long list of critics who've dissed the book.

When we finally meet the father, now ailing, we get a clearer impression of his illness and his doctors than of the man himself. This curious absence is all the more disappointing as Irving has said that the novel is based on his own youth, but it's unfortunately typical of a book in which the main characters seem two-dimensional.

The reviews for the book have been uniformly harsh: Michiko Kakutani's review for the New York Times called it “lackadaisical, weary and hideously overstuffed,” and Marrianne Wiggins ripped it apart as a “mass of lazy, unrefined writing” in the Washington Post.

Yet the book has still managed to debut pretty high on bestseller lists. Dwight Garner theorizes that,

Irving's brand of leisurely, old-school storytelling has legions of admirers, […], and sales of his new book have been given a push by profiles of the author in People and Entertainment Weekly that underscored this novel's autobiographical aspects. (Like his book's hero, Irving had a father who went missing early in his life and, like his book's hero, he was molested by a much older woman before he was in his teens.)

PS: Kitabkhana tells us that the Post has since apologized to Irving for Wiggins' review, because she was once married to Salman Rushdie who is best friends with Irving. Hmm.. wonder who Kirsch and Kakutani were married to.