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If you could sum up Avenue of Mysteries in three words, what would they be?
Surreal Mind Painting
What did you like best about this story?
Juan Diego, a 50 year old novelist travels to the Philippines to keep a promise he made forty years ago to a dying hippie as a 14 year old boy living in a garbage dump in Mexico with his younger sister/savant Lupe, who reads peoples minds (though only Juan can understand her.) It is a touching tale about a brilliant but reclusive dreamer who has lost everyone he ever loved as the years have gone by. He is a dreamer, because about half the book is narrated in a dream state. And believe me, like a narcoleptic, this guy can fall asleep on a dime,and always gets a bucks worth of dream meat every time he nods off. There are some very funny dialogues between Don Juan and Lupe during these dream/ flashbacks (between the now and the then). And if that's not confusing enough, when Juan arrives in the Philippines he is immediately adopted by a gorgeous mother and daughter team, who are certainly not what they appear to be (even after the book they remain so). The only way I can describe the story is that it melts together nicely like a surreal hot caramel sauce ladled over a real world frozen custard, both rich,and wonderful. To date, this is my favorite Irving book.
Which character – as performed by Armando Duran – was your favorite?
Lupe, was a hoot, particularly because of the great voice the narrator gave her. You could not help but to laugh
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Absolutely. It was a big read, but it still went too fast.
Any additional comments?
My favorite book of the year!
22 of 22 people found this review helpful
even a sub-par John Irving novel is better than what most other novelists produce. So giving a star rating is tough for me; I guess four stars is about right. His usual techniques shine through the strange story leaving his fingerprints all over the novel. He is brilliant at constantly moving his readers through time yet never losing them. True to form his protagonist is the most mundane of the characters, allowing all the other quirky, bizarre, or at least interesting characters in the story to come into clear view. Again, he is a master of such elements. For variety's sake, the words "New Hampshire" don't even appear anywhere in the book. He brings us into colorful and vibrant Mexico and the Philippines, a nice change. Irving's wry and not subtle frequent mentions of just how autobiographical a novelist's works are were spot on funny and maintain the air of mystery (although I'm willing to bet he himself is on beta- blockers and Viagra, because he talks about them incessantly.) He has fun with his "fictional or real life?" politics, too. Of course there's weird unsettling sex in this one like most of his other books. The narrator was great, although both the voice and the character of Lupe became grating. Dorothy and Miriam also got on my nerves fast. I would have liked more explanation by the end but I was still satisfied. I would recommend "In One Person" or "Twisted River" before this one, but Irving fans will still find lots of enjoyment here.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful