John Irving returns to the themes that established him as one of our most admired and beloved authors in this absorbing novel of fate and memory.
As we grow older - most of all, in what we remember and what we dream - we live in the past. Sometimes we live more vividly in the past than in the present.
As an older man, Juan Diego will take a trip to the Philippines, but what travels with him are his dreams and memories; he is most alive in his childhood and early adolescence in Mexico. "An aura of fate had marked him," John Irving writes of Juan Diego. "The chain of events, the links in our lives - what leads us where we're going, the courses we follow to our ends, what we don't see coming, and what we do - all this can be mysterious, or simply unseen, or even obvious."
Avenue of Mysteries is the story of what happens to Juan Diego in the Philippines, where what happened to him in the past - in Mexico - collides with his future.
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Irving Out of the Park!
Surreal Mind Painting
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.
Lupe, was a hoot, particularly because of the great voice the narrator gave her. You could not help but to laugh
Absolutely. It was a big read, but it still went too fast.
My favorite book of the year!
Exactly What I Needed From John Irving...
Avenue of Mysteries was a strange and wonderful journey. It had the mysticism of Prayer for Owen Meany and the imagination of Son of a Circus. It reminded me of early John Iriving books as I never knew what the next chapter was going to bring. Lupe was, by far, my favorite John Irving character to date. If you are not an avid follower of John Irving's work, this one might leave you confused and from some other reviews I read, possibly offended. If you are a follower, you know that the confusion is part of the journey and what others deem offensive is just his blunt and honest way to describing things as they are. For Irving fans, Avenue of Mysteries is a must -- for those new to Irving, bring an open mind and rest assured that it will all come together in the end. I can't wait to listen again!
- BIANCA KENDALL