Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving
(Simon & Schuster, 2015, 460 pages)
It’s hard to offer a plot summary of a John Irving novel because there are always so many different elements to it that you really can’t do the book justice. This is certainly the case for Avenue of Mysteries. As a devoted Irving fan there’s no question that I will read anything he publishes, but I didn’t think the jacket copy for his new title did the best job describing the book. I don’t think I’ll do much better, so here’s what Goodreads has to say:
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.
This is a classic Irving novel and it makes me want to re-read some of his older work. If you’re new to John Irving, I’d recommend looking at his backlist and starting there (specifically with A Prayer for Owen Meany).