The Fourth Hand asks an interesting question: "How can anyone identify a dream of the future?" The answer: "Destiny is not imaginable, except in dreams or to those in love." While reporting a story from India, a New York television journalist has his left hand eaten by a lion; millions of TV viewers witness the accident. In Boston, a renowned hand surgeon awaits the opportunity to perform the nation's first hand transplant; meanwhile, in the distracting aftermath of an acrimonious divorce, the surgeon is seduced by his housekeeper. A married woman in Wisconsin wants to give the one-handed reporter her husband's left hand-that is, after her husband dies. But the husband is alive, relatively young, and healthy. This is how John Irving's tenth novel begins; it seems, at first, to be a comedy, perhaps a satire, almost certainly a sexual farce. Yet, in the end, The Fourth Hand is as realistic and emotionally moving as any of Mr. Irving's previous novels-including The World According to Garp, A Prayer for Owen Meany, and A Widow for One Year-or his Oscar-winning screenplay of The Cider House Rules. The Fourth Hand is characteristic of John Irving's seamless storytelling and further explores some of the author's recurring themes-loss, grief, love as redemption. But this novel also breaks new ground; it offers a penetrating look at the power of second chances and the will to change.
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by John Irving
by Tosca Lee
by Mike Maden
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by Ralph Cotton, Ralph Compton
by Christopher Morgan Jones
by Ralph Compton, Ralph Cotton
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"Die-hard fans of John Irving, especially those who share his taste for the grotesque and for irony as broad as a barn, may find much to like in this fable about a shallow, passive newscaster named Patrick Wallingford who covers disasters and then becomes one himself when a lion bites his hand off. Wallingford is alleged to be irresistible to women; a young widow in Wisconsin is alleged to want Wallingford to father a baby upon her and then receive her husband's transplanted hand, to which she will then expect visitation rights. If Irving ever aspired to subtlety or true comedy he no longer does, but this is vintage Irving, and at least the performance by Jason Culp is unusually appealing, except for his unfortunate way with a Boston accent. B.G. (c) AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine"
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