Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving
Simon & Schuster: 11/3/15
eBook review copy; 480 pages
Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving is a highly recommended story of a man looking back at his childhood while navigating a trip overseas.
Currently Juan Diego Guerrero, 54, is a recently retired professor and
writer with a limp from a childhood accident. He is taking Lopressor for
his blood pressure and experiments with Viagra. He lives in Iowa but in
Avenue of Mysteries he is going on a trip to the
Philippines. As Juan Diego travels, he dreams, and in his dreams he is
14 and his sister Lupe is 13. During his trip, his dreams take Juan
Diego back in time and tell the story of his childhood.
Many years ago he and Lupe grew up as dump kids in Oaxaca, Mexico. He
was a self-taught reader and interpreter for his sister, whose speech no
one else could understand or interpret. Lupe is known for her ability
to read minds, which she freely shares while Juan Diego translates to
those around them. In these dreams, he and Lupe freely discuss their
problems with the Catholic Church, their prostitute mother, their
unknown fathers, and love of dogs.
While traveling he meets two women, Miriam and Dorothy, who he thinks
are a mother and daughter. He lusts after both of them and they assist
him in his journey, in a manner of speaking. There is a lot of sudden
naps, pill dosage juggling and sex in the present day.
First and foremost the quality of the actual writing is excellent, which
helps facilitate following the present and past story lines. For me,
the dream segments, which take you back to Juan Diego's childhood, are
much better than the present day travels with the eerie women.
Admittedly, I grew tired of the sex-capades and simply kept reading to
learn about what happened in his childhood and to confirm what I thought
about the two women.
For Irving fans there are going to be many themes repeated here that
have shown up in previous novels. Those who are new to Irving may
struggle a bit with these themes; specifically, anyone who is a
practicing Catholic might want to pass this one. I'd have to reread some
of his earlier books, but this time around it felt excessively critical
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy
of Simon & Schuster for review