Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Until I Find You

Type: Fiction
Author: John Irving
Shepnerd Rating: 3 Stars

Until I Find You is a fun and typical John Irving book. What I like about Irving is how deeply he researches his topics and presents such a full picture of them that you feel like you understand a culture or idea completely when its done.

The best part of the book is the history of tattoo culture. The protagonist, Jack Burns, grows up with a single mom who is a tattoo artist in the 1960's. "Daughter Alice", as she is called, takes Jack on an amazing journey to find his womanizing, abandoning father. From "sleeping in the needles" to the interesting history of the "Sailor's ruin tattoo" - the information and world she inhabits is fascinating.

Traditional "Sailor's Ruin" Tattoo

Sadly, also like Irving's later books, the story collapses under a slew of sexual romps and odd encounters, barely making the point by its end. I enjoyed the way Alice explains to 5 year old Jack that the kind-hearted prostitutes who help them are "women who give advice to men" and the wisdom from the "Grey Ghost" he discovers as one of the few boy students in an all girl's school. However, by the time adulthood hits Jack, the sex is as meaningless as his rambling pursuits and the interest wanes.

If you are starting with Irving - get "A Prayer for Owen Meany"
If you love him enough to forgive him - try "Until I Find You"

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