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Last Night in Twisted River (Anglais) Relié – 19 octobre 2009

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Relié, 19 octobre 2009
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--Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.
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Chapter One


Under the Logs


The young canadian, who could not have been more than fifteen, had hesitated too long. For a frozen moment, his feet had stopped moving on the floating logs in the basin above the river bend; he'd slipped entirely underwater before anyone could grab his outstretched hand. One of the loggers had reached for the youth's long hair— the older man's fingers groped around in the frigid water, which was thick, almost soupy, with sloughed- off slabs of bark. Then two logs collided hard on the would- be rescuer's arm, breaking his wrist. The carpet of moving logs had completely closed over the young Canadian, who never surfaced; not even a hand or one of his boots broke out of the brown water.

 Out on a logjam, once the key log was pried loose, the river drivers had to move quickly and continually; if they paused for even a second or two, they would be pitched into the torrent. In a river drive, death among moving logs could occur from a crushing injury, before you had a chance to drown— but drowning was more common. 

From the riverbank, where the cook and his twelve- year- old son could hear the cursing of the logger whose wrist had been broken, it was immediately apparent that someone was in more serious trouble than the would- be rescuer, who'd freed his injured arm and had managed to regain his footing on the flowing logs. His fellow river drivers ignored him; they moved with small, rapid steps toward shore, calling out the lost boy's name. The loggers ceaselessly prodded with their pike poles, directing the floating logs ahead of them. The rivermen were, for the most part, picking the safest way ashore, but to the cook's hopeful son it seemed that they might have been trying to create a gap of sufficient width for the young Canadian to emerge. In truth, there were now only intermittent gaps between the logs. The boy who'd told them his name was "Angel Pope, from Toronto," was that quickly gone. 

"Is it Angel ?" the twelve- year- old asked his father. This boy, with his dark- brown eyes and intensely serious expression, could have been mistaken for Angel's younger brother, but there was no mistaking the family resemblance that the twelve- year- old bore to his ever- watchful father. The cook had an aura of controlled apprehension about him, as if he routinely anticipated the most unforeseen disasters, and there was something about his son's seriousness that reflected this; in fact, the boy looked so much like his father that several of the woodsmen had expressed their surprise that the son didn't also walk with his dad's pronounced limp. 

The cook knew too well that indeed it was the young Canadian who had fallen under the logs. It was the cook who'd warned the loggers that Angel was too green for the river drivers' work; the youth should not have been trying to free a logjam. But probably the boy had been eager to please, and maybe the rivermen hadn't noticed him at first. 

In the cook's opinion, Angel Pope had also been too green (and too clumsy) to be working in the vicinity of the main blade in a sawmill. That was strictly the sawyer's territory— a highly skilled position in the mills. The planer operator was a relatively skilled position, too, though not particularly dangerous. 

The more dangerous and less skilled positions included working on the log deck, where logs were rolled into the mill and onto the saw carriage, or unloading logs from the trucks. Before the advent of mechanical loaders, the logs were unloaded by releasing trip bunks on the sides of the trucks— this allowed an entire load to roll off a truck at once. But the trip bunks sometimes failed to release; the men were occasionally caught under a cascade of logs while they were trying to free a bunk. 

As far as the cook was concerned, Angel shouldn't have been in any position that put the boy in close proximity to moving logs. But the lumberjacks had been as fond of the young Canadian as the cook and his son had been, and Angel had said he was bored working in the kitchen. The youth had wanted more physical labor, and he liked the outdoors. 

The repeated thunk- thunk of the pike poles, poking the logs, was briefly interrupted by the shouts of the rivermen who had spotted Angel's pike pole— more than fifty yards from where the boy had vanished. The fifteen- foot pole was floating free of the log drive, out where the river currents had carried it away from the logs. 

The cook could see that the river driver with the broken wrist had come ashore, carrying his pike pole in his good hand. First by the familiarity of his cursing, and only secondarily by the logger's matted hair and tangled beard, did the cook realize that the injured man was Ketchum— no neophyte to the treachery of a log drive. 

It was April— not long after the last snowmelt and the start of mud season— but the ice had only recently broken up in the river basin, the first logs falling through the ice upstream of the basin, on the Dummer ponds. The river was ice- cold and swollen, and many of the lumberjacks had heavy beards and long hair, which would afford them some scant protection from the blackflies in mid- May. 

Ketchum lay on his back on the riverbank like a beached bear. The moving mass of logs flowed past him. It appeared as if the log drive were a life raft, and the loggers who were still out on the river seemed like castaways at sea— except that the sea, from one moment to the next, turned from greenish brown to bluish black. The water in Twisted River was richly dyed with tannins. 

"Shit, Angel!" Ketchum shouted from his back. "I said, 'Move your feet, Angel. You have to keep moving your feet !' Oh, shit." 

The vast expanse of logs had been no life raft for Angel, who'd surely drowned or been crushed to death in the basin above the river bend, although the lumberjacks (Ketchum among them) would follow the log drive at least to where Twisted River poured into the Pontook Reservoir at Dead Woman Dam. The Pontook Dam on the Androscoggin River had created the reservoir; once the logs were let loose in the Androscoggin, they would next encounter the sorting gaps outside Milan. In Berlin, the Androscoggin dropped two hundred feet in three miles; two paper mills appeared to divide the river at the sorting gaps in Berlin. It was not inconceivable to imagine that young Angel Pope, from Toronto, was on his way there. come nightfall, the cook and his son were still attempting to salvage leftovers, for tomorrow's meals, from the scores of untouched dinners in the small settlement's dining lodge— the cookhouse in the so- called town of Twisted River, which was barely larger and only a little less transient than a logging camp. Not long ago, the only dining lodge on a river drive hadn't been a lodge at all. There once was a traveling kitchen that had been permanently built onto a truck body, and an adjacent truck on which a modular dining hall could be taken down and reassembled— this was when the trucks used to perpetually move camp to another site on Twisted River, wherever the loggers were working next. 

In those days, except on the weekends, the rivermen rarely went back to the town of Twisted River to eat or sleep. The camp cook had often cooked in a tent. Everything had to be completely portable; even the sleeping shelters were built onto truck bodies. 

Now nobody knew what would become of the less- than- thriving town of Twisted River, which was situated partway between the river basin and the Dummer ponds. The sawmill workers and their families lived there, and the logging company maintained bunkhouses for the more transient woodsmen, who included not only the French Canadian itinerants but most of the river drivers and the other loggers. The company also maintained a better equipped kitchen, an actual dining lodge— the aforementioned cookhouse— for the cook and his son. But for how much longer? Not even the owner of the logging company knew. 

The lumber industry was in transition; it would one day be possible for every worker in the logging business to work from home. The logging camps (and even the slightly less marginal settlements like Twisted River) were dying. The wanigans themselves were disappearing; those curious shelters for sleeping and eating and storing equipment had not only been mounted on trucks, on wheels, or on crawler tracks, but they were often attached to rafts or boats. 

The Indian dishwasher— she worked for the cook— had long ago told the cook's young son that wanigan was from an Abenaki word, leading the boy to wonder if the dishwasher herself was from the Abenaki tribe. Perhaps she just happened to know the origin of the word, or she'd merely claimed to know it. (The cook's son went to school with an Indian boy who'd told him that wanigan was of Algon - quian origin.) 

While it lasted, the work during a river drive was from dawn till dark. It was the protocol in a logging operation to feed the men four times a day. In the past, when the wanigans couldn't get close to a river site, the two midday meals had been trekked to the drivers. The first and last meal were served in the base camp— nowadays, in the dining lodge. But out of their affection for Angel, tonight ... --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

Revue de presse

“Absolutely unmissable . . . [A] big-hearted, brilliantly written and superbly realized intergenerational tale of a father and son.”—Financial Times
 
“Engrossing . . . Irving’s sentences and paragraphs are assembled with the skill and attention to detail of a master craftsman creating a dazzling piece of jewelry from hundreds of tiny, bright stones.”—Houston Chronicle

“There’s plenty of evidence in Irving’s agility as a writer in Last Night in Twisted River. . . . some of the comic moments are among the most memorable that Irving has written.”—New York Times

“A rich and evocative story.”—Washington Post


From the Trade Paperback edition. --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

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3.7 étoiles sur 5

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Le dernier livre de John Irving est impressionnant. A travers le récit de l'histoire comico-tragique de la famille Baciagalupo, mené à tambours battants, la force de ce livre est indéniablement dans ses personnages principaux ou secondaires, haut en couleurs qu'on aime tant dans les livres de John Irving (Ketchum et Lady Sky sont particulièrement réussis) et quelle histoire !
Tout y est et sonne si juste, dans un cocktail d'humour (toujours), d'émotions (très fortes sans jamais tomber dans le sentimentalisme), de sexe (de rigueur), d'amour (familial, pour la bonne chair, pour la nature, pour son pays malgré tout)... sans oublier l'importance des ours (ou pas)!
Et puis quelle écriture, quel sens de la formule.
On y trouve même une astuce pour améliorer la pâte à pizza que je vous laisse découvrir.
J'ai du me retenir pour lire ce livre trop vite, ne lisant que quelques pages par jour pour prolonger le plaisir...qui perdure une fois le livre achevé.
1 commentaire 59 personnes ont trouvé cela utile. Avez-vous trouvé ce commentaire utile ? Oui Non Commentaire en cours d'envoi...
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J'ai du mal à comprendre l'enthousiasme des autres commentaires français - les avis sont beaucoup plus partagés sur le site anglais. Pour ma part, j'ai trouvé ce millésime plutôt indigeste et fastidieux, surtout cette manie de retarder une péripétie annoncée par de (trop) longs flash-backs et l'introduction de (trop) nombreux personnages secondaires. J'ai aimé plusieurs roman d'Irving, adoré quelques uns, mais celui-ci m'a fatigué plus qu'autre chose.
Remarque sur ce commentaire 3 personnes ont trouvé cela utile. Avez-vous trouvé ce commentaire utile ? Oui Non Commentaire en cours d'envoi...
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Un retour aux sources ... Ne pas se laisser dissuader par une entrée en matière un peu longue, le reste est une véritable récompense. J'envie celles et ceux qui ne l'ont pas encore lu. Pour quand une traduction francaise ?
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Une saga passionnante qui se déroule dans le nord est des USA: le pouvoir des mots et des images qu'ils évoquent vous transporte dans dans le milieu des ouvriers du bois dans les années 50 avec des personnages qui sont de vrais caractères hauts en couleur avec leurs "petits arrangements intimes" qui les réunit dans ces lieux improbables autour d'un métier très dur...A lire absolument!
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hadn't read one of his books since i didn't like 'Owen Meany', now i don't know how many years later he's still writing about draft dodgers cutting off their fingers, come on! really liked the book up til about page 100 then it takes a rediculous 'twist' and never looks back. those books i loved so long ago 'Garp' and 'hotel new hampshire' had to be better than this; say it's so John.
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C'est sûr c'est du Irving, donc c'est bien écrit, bien construit. Mais je suis un peu déçu par rapport à d'autres romans de cet auteur, car la structure narrative complexe, faite d'incessants retours en arrière, nuit un peu à l'action.
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