Monday, January 2, 2023

The Last Chairlift


Author: John Irving

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio

Year: 2022

𝗔𝘂𝗱𝗶𝗼𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸 𝗥𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄

Thank you Simon & Schuster Audio for the complimentary audiobook The Last Chairlift. The best words I can think of to describe this novel are sprawling and messing. Sprawling because it encompasses 80 years in the life of main character Adam Brewster. And messy because life can be messy. And families can be messy. And love can be messy. 

Author John Irving revisits familiar themes- an unconventional (for her time period) mother, an absent father, New England boarding school, sexual politics, love, wrestling, & writing. And just for fun, he throws in some ghosts too. This novel is too long and wide-ranging, so here’s some highlights: 

It is often funny and absurd. I was howling with laughter at the situations the befell poor Adam and some of his sexual partners. But Irving also delves into the horror of the AIDS crisis, politics, aging, and death. There are a host a characters & I don’t have enough space here to describe them all. I loved the little snowshoer Mr. Barlow. Mr. Barlow is an English teacher at Adam’s boarding school. Little Ray marries Mr. Barlow knowing that the little snowshoer would protect and mentor Adam. Mr. Barlow and Little Ray love each other unconditionally & allow each other to live as their authentic selves. Little Ray has a long-term, loving relationship with Molly, a no-nonsense ski slope groomer and ski patroller. After Mr. Barlow leaves teaching, the little snowshoer transitions to a woman. Through it all, Adam loves them unconditionally. And I did too. 

Of course, no family’s story is perfect. This book isn’t perfect either. There were parts that I thought just dragged. Adam discovers the identity of his father later in his life. A good chunk of that is written as a movie script. To me, it brought the whole narrative to a screeching halt & slowed down the whole story. 

Kudos to narrator Jacques Roy & the ensemble cast for bringing the story to life. I really enjoyed their narration.

Ultimately, this is a story of family, love, & life in all it’s sweet, fierce, quiet, loud, quirky, messy, happy, sad, and glorious forms. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

#thelastchairlift #johnirving #simonaudio #audiobook #audiobookstagram #audiobookreview #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #lqbtqbooks 

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