Wednesday, October 12, 2022

The Last Chairlift

The Last Chairlift by John Irving
10/18/22; 912 pages
Simon & Schuster

The Last Chairlift by John Irving is the highly recommended, albeit long-winded, story of the life of Adam Brewster. This one is best for fans of Irving who will already be delighted to see a new novel.

Adam Brewster shares an account of his life in this first person narrative. In 1941 Adam Brewster's mother, Rachel (Ray) manages to get pregnant in Aspen, Colorado, at the National Championships where she was competing as a slalom skier. The Brewster's live in Exeter, Vermont where Ray is a ski instructor, but she leaves Adam with her mother and sisters during the ski season. His grandmother really raises Adam. All of Adam's family members are a progressive group of women and this is reflected in the plot. Basically, the is the story of Adam's life.

Certainly Irving covers all the topics that one expects him to cover in a novel. These topics include: New Hampshire, unusual mothers, absent fathers, writers, ghosts, prep schools, dysfunctional family relationships, wrestling, sexuality, politics, cultural changes, etc.. Following Adam's life from 1941 to the present, this is a novel that will celebrates unique families and the affection they share. It exhibits tolerance and understanding for those who are different.

The major drawback is that The Last Chairlift is simply too long. Honestly, this is a novel that will exasperate many reader because it is so rambling and the plot is weak. About a quarter of the novel is a screenplay written by Adam. This is really a novel for fans of Irving's writing. If you haven't read any of his novels, go back and start with The World According to Garp, A Prayer for Owen Meany, or Cider House Rules. Between the length and the repetition in the writing, many readers will want to pass this one. Irving has penned much better works, but he has said that this is his last long novel.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Simon and Schuster.

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