Avenue Of Mysteries

Paperback | June 7, 2016

byJohn Irving

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John Irving returns to the themes that established him as one of North America's most admired and beloved storytellers in this absorbing novel of fate and memory.


As we grow older--most of all, in what we remember and what we dream--we live in the past. Sometimes, we live more vividly in the past than in the present.
     As an older man, Juan Diego will take a trip to the Philippines, but what travels with him are his dreams and memories; he is most alive in his childhood and early adolescence in Mexico. "An aura of fate had marked him," John Irving writes, of Juan Diego. "The chain of events, the links in our lives--what leads us where we're going, the courses we follow to our ends, what we don't see coming, and what we do--all this can be mysterious, or simply unseen, or even obvious."
Avenue of Mysteries is the story of what happens to Juan Diego in the Philippines, where what happened to him in the past--in Mexico--collides with his future.

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From the Publisher

John Irving returns to the themes that established him as one of North America's most admired and beloved storytellers in this absorbing novel of fate and memory.As we grow older--most of all, in what we remember and what we dream--we live in the past. Sometimes, we live more vividly in the past than in the present.     As an older man...

JOHN IRVING was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942. His first novel, Setting Free the Bears, was published in 1968, when he was twenty-six. He competed as a wrestler for twenty years, and coached wrestling until he was forty-seven. Mr. Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times--winning once, in 1980, for his ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:480 pages, 8.3 × 5.5 × 1 inPublished:June 7, 2016Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307361829

ISBN - 13:9780307361820

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Customer Reviews of Avenue Of Mysteries

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Editorial Reviews

Longlisted for the 2017 International Dublin Literary Award“John Irving’s Avenue of Mysteries weaves a rich international tapestry that dwells equally in memory and uncontrollable imagination . . . . Where Avenue of Mysteries shines best is in its characterizations of Juan Diego. . . . Full of page-turner twists and surprises, Mysteries is doubtless one of the year’s most original—and uniquely fulfilling—mainstream novels. . . . Mysteries is a journey well worth taking, the rare breed of book that causes readers to mourn the lack of more pages.” —Mark Hamilton, Reader’s Digest    “Irving returns with another tragicomic gem. . . . As with all of Irving’s novels, Avenue of Mysteries is full of colourful supporting characters. . . . There is a reason critics routinely refer to [Irving] as a contemporary Dickens.” —Eric Volmers, Calgary Herald   “A sprawling, complex, and compelling work, Avenue of Mysteries abounds with symbolism and foreshadowing, along with some wildly comic set pieces.” —Doug Sarti, The Georgia Straight   “It is a credit to Irving that the story of Juan Diego is still fluid, that this prolific and internationally recognized writer, at 73, is not bound by convention or expectation. . . . Irving is as capable as ever at searching out mystery, at investigating the miraculous, and transforming one story into another in a unique and seamless way.” —Kevin Hardcastle, National Post   “If this curious mash-up of pathos and quirk sounds like vintage John Irving, in many ways it is. . . . [Irving] creates a gritty, unromanticized portrait of life in 1970s Oaxaca.” —Michael Bourne, The Globe and Mail    “[Irving] takes on a few more travellers with each new novel he writes, and what marvellous travellers he creates. . . . Irving is such a gifted writer he can have you in tears in the turn of a page. . . . Avenue of Mysteries feels poignant, funny and political, which is what John Irving does so well. The journey is a little tougher than usual but you can’t beat the travelling companions.” —Georgie Binks, Toronto Star   “[A]bsurd, tender, profound and biting.” —Henrietta Walmark, Metro   “[A] page-turning meditation on destiny, luck and love.” —ELLE Canada   “[B]ig in every way. . . . [A]mbitious. . . . Avenue of Mysteries is anything but breezy. Instead, this book is packed with serious questions.” —Canadian Living “Irving revitalizes his signature fascinations in this funny, wildly imaginative, tender, and mystical novel.” —Booklist    “Like Dickens, he writes with 20:20 vision about children and the rites of growing up; about families; about unlikely heroes, misfits and ideologues. . . . It’s a curious, at times wilfully opaque, story, full of digressions. But Irving’s powers of storytelling—when to give knowledge and when to withhold it, then smack you in the face with it—remain intact. . . . A reader of Irving’s works will easily spot themes to which he returns again and again (bears, abortion, an attraction to an older woman, wrestling, absent fathers, men who escaped the Vietnam War draft, dead dogs). It’s all the clutter of his own life (even the bear: he once looked after one at a circus in Vienna), but transformed, kaleidoscope-like, each time into something new.” —The Telegraph   “Irving’s gift for telling compelling stories about characters who seem at once familiar and extraordinary is fully on display in Avenue of Mysteries. As Juan Diego relives his past and grapples with his present—under the influence of pharmaceuticals and his two lovers—the reader is treated to a tale rich in incident and featuring fully realized characters. Avenue of Mysteries offers the immersive and recursive reading experience that defines Irving’s most successful work.” —The Gazette    “The novel is energetic. Irving delights in his invention and virtuosity. The cast of characters is huge. Most of them are odd—but then, viewed from certain perspectives, who isn’t. . . . It’s an extravagant show, full of special effects.” —The Yorkshire Post   “Avenue of Mysteries features Irving’s usual rollcall of bizarre characters and tragicomic events. To say more would be to spoil the fun. . . . Avenue of Mysteries touches upon a number of issues that recur in Irving’s novels, including the capriciousness of fate, the significance of a person’s past to their present, debates about Catholicism, and how society treats outsiders. Irving once said that ‘writers must describe the terrible’ and there is plenty of that in this heart-wrenching story. . . . Avenue of Mysteries is a great read that is sure to make you laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time.” —The Australian Financial Review   “Fans of John Irving . . . revel in his rapacious storytelling. Like his hero, Charles Dickens, Irving is never in a hurry to spill beans. Invariably, his novels are long and meandering, full of incident and teeming with unforgettable characters. Unlike so many of his minimalist peers he is fond of parenthesis, exclaims with abandon and repeats audaciously. Nor is he afraid to give rein to his obsessions. . . . Irving is simultaneously a traditionalist and a modernist. . . . Flitting back and forth in time, we are introduced to a cast of characters who are at the extreme end of colourful. . . . Juan Diego emerges as one of Irving’s most memorable and fascinating creations, which is saying something. He is a twenty-first century Garp, the kind of lost child Dr. Wilbur Larch would have rescued in The Cider House Rules, and as obsessed with the existence of God as Owen Meany. Indiscriminate, unguided reading has made him what he is, including books that have been cast aside like lost children. Like John Irving, it has taught him that there’s more ways than one to tell a story.” —The Herald   “The basic plot line is wondrous. . . . Forget magical realism, this is magical surrealism in only the way Irving can write it.” —The Muskogee Phoenix   “A writer of great imagination, Irving can sell the reader on nearly any plot twist no matter how incredible—from a murderous statue of the Virgin Mary to a pride of anthropomorphized lionesses to a pair of (possibly) paranormal, (definitely) kinky bibliophiles. Under his spell, all of this seems perfectly and irresistibly plausible. . . . [A] very fine work, as invigorating and satisfying as a cup of stovetop coffee. From the first page to the last, there is a goodness to this novel. . . . John Irving is his own thing, and so is his new novel. Avenue of Mysteries is thoroughly modern, accessibly brainy, hilariously eccentric and beautifully human.” —Tayari Jones, The New York Times    “[W]ondrously and masterfully written. I recommend [Avenue of Mysteries] for the politically astute, the lover of beautiful sentences, those who need humor infused with the difficult and of course, devotees.” —Artvoice   “Irving [is] still churning out sublime writing. . . . [Avenue of Mysteries] marks another amazing tale from an author who has been writing for half a century. . . . [T]he reader may rest assured that we are once more in a familiar John Irving landscape. . . . Avenue of the Mysteries left me a bit stunned.  Certainly, it is unforgettable.” —Smoky Mountain News   “Perhaps more than in any other of his books, Avenue of Mysteries demonstrates what is under the hood—what goes on in writers’ minds. . . . Fans of Mr. Irving’s earlier books will find a new kind of character in Avenue of Mysteries.” —Steve Novak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette   “[G]reat humour and skillful writing.” —Stuff (New Zealand) http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/books/74190044/new-john-irving-novel-remains-a-mystery  “Avenue of Mysteries is meaningfully dark and classically quirky. . . . This is classic Irving, whose thoroughfares of mystery often T-junction at Quirky Lane.” —Las Vegas Weekly (4 stars)    “There are novels that grasp such a strong hold in their ability to bring the reader in, educate and entertain while touching the emotions with every turn of the page. Such are the affirmations of the depth and humanity found within the qualities of John Irving’s Avenue of Mysteries. . . . How John Irving progresses Juan’s story and the people who come into Juan’s life is truly phenomenal and comes with a strong and sensitive touch of the divine.” —Edge    “[D]ream-steeped, enchanted, and often amusing. . . . Irving weaves together two vibrant storylines into a charmingly inventive novel that resurrects some of his favorite preoccupations. . . . The sustaining beauty of Irving’s artistry is his richly rendered characters and the unforeseeable events, inevitable collisions, really, that transform their lives. And that pretty much sizes up this transcendent work. . . . [An] unfailingly masterful narrative.” —USA Today (4 stars)     “For fans of Irving, there are a lot of gold nuggets to discover. . . . I always enjoy Irving when he challenges himself and that is happening here. . . . [Avenue of Mysteries] reminded me, after so many years, why I’m still a fan of [Irving’s] writing.” —Scott D. Southard, WKAR    “[Avenue of Mysteries] is full of [Irving’s] signature quirks and characters. . . . [I]t’s good to see that this popular and insightful literary magician still has a few tricks up his sleeve.” —Michael Berry, Portland Press Herald     “[R]ichly detailed, imaginative and beautiful. . . . [C]ompulsively readable, with a steadily moving narrative, a cast of interesting and oddball characters, and settings that transport the reader. . . . [T]he simplest, saddest and most wonderful tale of the human condition.” —Catherine Mallette, Star-Telegram (Fort Worth)     “Avenue of Mysteries is entirely Irving’s, his best novel since the years of The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany. . . . [F]ull of richly imagined surprises.” —Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times   “[C]ompletely engaging; Irving’s a master at both setting up his stories’ improbable events and appropriately withholding narrative information . . . sentimental and funny. . . . [T]his weird, inexact, shape-shifting story . . . stick[s] with you.” —Ned Lannamann, The Portland Mercury   “Irving has made a fascinating choice in Avenue of Mysteries to dissect his own work with energy and amusement in an earnest attempt to explain how a novelist’s imagination works. . . . [E]xplosive humor, moral precision and enveloping empathy . . . are the hallmarks of [Irving’s] gift. As has become increasingly evident over the course of his long and satisfying career, what John Irving knows is well worth telling.” —Paste Magazine http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/11/avenue-of-mysteries-by-john-irving-review.html?p=2  “[Irving] returns to the themes that established him as one of our most admired and beloved authors in this absorbing novel of fate and memory.” —My Edmonds News    “[T]here is much that is both miraculous and mysterious in [Avenue of Mysteries].” —Lynn Neary, NPR    “[Irving] ticks all the . . . boxes that will keep fans turning the pages. . . . Irving’s gift is blending all these crazy plot elements together. . . . [L]ose yourself in this tale from one of America’s pre-eminent storytellers.” —Rob Merrill, The Associated Press    “[Irving] offers a dark-roast blend of the frank and the weird. . . . [Irving] is a mega-maximalist and a hawker of magic carpets.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times   “Hold on to your hats: John Irving’s new novel is a wild and rollicking ride. . . . Irving plays delightful havoc with this colorful collection of humanity, beguiling us from start to finish.” —David Takami, The Seattle Times    “[S]uperbly crafted. . . . [Irving is] still an unparalleled choreographer of outrageous calamities that exist somewhere between coincidence and fate. . . . [T]ouching. . . . [Irving’s] reflections on his life and work attain a sweet profundity that should win over anyone who follows his journey to the end.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post   “Irving has enthralled us with epic stories for a long time now. . . . As usual, Irving takes an intriguing premise, crafts remarkable prose to carry his narrative, inhabits it with memorable characters that seem more real than people you actually know, and sends us headlong on a tale that covers decades as Juan Diego grows from child to man.” —David Baldacci, CBS News    “Irving is spectacularly hilarious and incisive in this tender, mystical, yet caustic tale. . . . Irving often portrays writers in his novels, but Juan Diego is a special case, bringing particularly enchanting radiance to this empathically imagined, masterfully told, and utterly transporting tale of transcendent sacrifice and perseverance, unlikely love, and profound mysteries.” —Booklist (starred review)     “Sex, drugs, and mariachi. . . . When you come to think of it, life itself is pretty much an avenue of mysteries, though, per Irving, not without its comedy in the midst of tragedy and disappointment. . . . Irving works his familiar themes—Catholicism, sex, death—with a light and assured touch. . . . A welcome return to form.” —Kirkus Reviews