Until I Find You

Until I Find You

A Novel

Book - 2005
Average Rating:
7
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Until I Find You is the story of the actor Jack Burns - his life, loves, celebrity and astonishing search for the truth about his parents.

When he is four years old, Jack travels with his mother Alice, a tattoo artist, to several North Sea ports in search of his father, William Burns. From Copenhagen to Amsterdam, William, a brilliant church organist and profligate womanizer, is always a step ahead - has always just departed in a wave of scandal, with a new tattoo somewhere on his body from a local master or "scratcher."

Alice and Jack abandon their quest, and Jack is educated at schools in Canada and New England - including, tellingly, a girls' school in Toronto. His real education consists of his relationships with older women - from Emma Oastler, who initiates him into erotic life, to the girls of St. Hilda's, with whom he first appears on stage, to the abusive Mrs. Machado, whom he first meets when sent to learn wrestling at a local gym.

Too much happens in this expansive, eventful novel to possibly summarize it all. Emma and Jack move to Los Angeles, where Emma becomes a successful novelist and Jack a promising actor. A host of eccentric minor characters memorably come and go, including Jack's hilariously confused teacher the Wurtz; Michelle Maher, the girlfriend he will never forget; and a precocious child Jack finds in the back of an Audi in a restaurant parking lot. We learn about tattoo addiction and movie cross-dressing, "sleeping in the needles" and the cure for cauliflower ears. And John Irving renders his protagonist's unusual rise through Hollywood with the same vivid detail and range of emotions he gives to the organ music Jack hears as a child in European churches. This is an absorbing and moving book about obsession and loss, truth and storytelling, the signs we carry on us and inside us, the traces we can't get rid of.

Jack has always lived in the shadow of his absent father. But as he grows older - and when his mother dies - he starts to doubt the portrait of his father's character she painted for him when he was a child. This is the cue for a second journey around Europe in search of his father, from Edinburgh to Switzerland, towards a conclusion of great emotional force.

A melancholy tale of deception, Until I Find You is also a swaggering comic novel, a giant tapestry of life's hopes. It is a masterpiece to compare with John Irving's great novels, and restates the author's claim to be considered the most glorious, comic, moving novelist at work today.
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2005.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781400063833
1400063833
Branch Call Number: IRVING J
Characteristics: xiii, 824 pages ; 25 cm.

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l
lukasevansherman
Jun 20, 2016

First of all, the book is long. Maybe the longest of Irving's books, coming in a little over 800. Contrary to the previous comment, I wouldn't call it a "word-processor novel." Who uses a word processor anymore? Like Dickens, Irving immerses you in a story and he doesn't mind taking his time, which I think is a great strength. I was never bored and, in fact, think it's one of his greatest novels. Before you read it, make sure you are reasonably comfortable with a lot of underage sexuality.

c
cliffstory
Nov 02, 2015

A word-processor novel. There are good word-processor novels, of course, but this one shows no sign that the author ever had anything in mind when he sat down to write but increasing the word count. Well, that's not entirely true; some actual people appear in the book, and some disguised-actual people, and he seems to be settling scores with the latter, and sucking up to the former. But when I finally reached the longed-for end of the book, I wondered: what was all that about? I don't know.

2
22950010483022
Nov 07, 2013

About as hetero as modern novels get. It's hard to tell if Irving is appaled or over joyed at the notion of boys being seduced (and lady-handled) by older women. Is the protagonist a cad or a victim? Is he deserving of his success or just really lucky? It's a book you can give yourself over to for about 50 pages before putting it down realizing what a "wet dream" of a read it really is. And then do it over again. It took me a few months to read this between other books I liked better, but I somehow felt I had to finish another John Irving novel. (The first being the exceptional "Son of the Circus). While there were enjoyable parts, it is ultimately long winded and repetitive. Alas, not really worth the time when there are better books out there.

l
Languid5
Jun 21, 2012

I like this book but it seems to run on a bit.

m
mincvm
Jan 24, 2011

Not one of his best. Good in parts, but generally slightly disappointing compared with his previous books.

c
Cabby
Nov 08, 2007

800 pages but I only liked 200 of them.

pscho Dec 14, 2006

Very John Irving, complex, odd, light and dark. Not my all time favourite, but definitely recommended. May offend a few female readers, but only a few.

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