Irving's 10th novel (and one his shorter ones) is what he calls his "post-screenplay novel." He adapted "The Cider House Rules" for the screen, which won him an Oscar. I found it a vastly overrated film, but I'm glad he won the award. Irving is a realist, but he's never shied away from coincidences, improbabilities, and the slightly bizarre. The main event of "The Fourth Hand" is the protagonist, a news anchor, losing his hand in a freak lion attack in India. He then gets a hand transplant from a Wisconsin man who accidentally shot himself. The man's widow demands visitation rights with the hand. There's also the ultra healthy and competent, if eccentric, hand doctor. Out of this somewhat improbable material, Irving writes a novel that is funny, touching, and deeply empathetic. It's a smaller, more modest work than many of his other novels, but with no less depth and insight.
I like this novel and John Irving for what I hope are all the right reasons.
However, it's good that Wallingford is presented as somewhat stupid because this is another novel where we're left with the impression that males are attracted to bossy, game-playing females.
At the end, I was really hoping Wallingford would tell her,"Darling, I love you but if you don't cut the crap with the games and learn some manners I'm going to put on some weight, become less attractive, DUMP you then LOSE the weight!" but he never did.
We really need more media that explains to women the reasons men dump them so they'll finally have a clue.
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