The Fourth Hand

The Fourth Hand

A Novel

Large Print - 2001
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The Fourth Handasks 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 Handis as realistic and emotionally moving as any of Mr. Irving's previous novels -- includingThe World According to Garp, A Prayer for Owen Meany, andA Widow for One Year-- or his Oscar-winning screenplay ofThe Cider House Rules. The Fourth Handis 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. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Publisher: New York : Random House Large Print, 2001.
Edition: Large print ed.
ISBN: 9780375431210
0375431217
Characteristics: x, 431 p. ;,24 cm.

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lukasevansherman
Jul 18, 2016

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.

dgr Oct 11, 2012

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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