The Last Chairlift (Hardcover)
On Our Shelves Now
John Irving, one of the world’s greatest novelists, returns with his first novel in seven years—a ghost story, a love story, and a lifetime of sexual politics.
In Aspen, Colorado, in 1941, Rachel Brewster is a slalom skier at the National Downhill and Slalom Championships. Little Ray, as she is called, finishes nowhere near the podium, but she manages to get pregnant. Back home, in New England, Little Ray becomes a ski instructor.
Her son, Adam, grows up in a family that defies conventions and evades questions concerning the eventful past. Years later, looking for answers, Adam will go to Aspen. In the Hotel Jerome, where he was conceived, Adam will meet some ghosts; in The Last Chairlift, they aren’t the first or the last ghosts he sees.
John Irving has written some of the most acclaimed books of our time—among them, The World According to Garp and The Cider House Rules. A visionary voice on the subject of sexual tolerance, Irving is a bard of alternative families. In The Last Chairlift, readers will once more be in his thrall.
About the Author
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. He is a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 1980, Mr. Irving won a National Book Award for his novel The World According to Garp. In 2000, he won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules. In 2013, he won a Lambda Literary Award for his novel In One Person. An international writer, his novels have been translated into almost forty languages. His all-time bestselling novel, in every language, is A Prayer for Owen Meany. A dual citizen of the United States and Canada, John Irving lives in Toronto.
“Irving's old magic emerges: his wit and fearlessness around sex, and his grasp of the wide ripple effects of intolerance. "There's more than one way to love people, Kid," young Adam is told early on. If Irving keeps hammering that point, over and over again, it's because he's collected years of evidence that some people never hear it.” – Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Irving is at home in the supernatural; he traverses the membrane between this world and the next with comfort and ease. A ghost story needn’t be a horror story. It can also be a romantic comedy that includes some characters more scared by living ghouls than ectoplasm. “The Last Chairlift” is eminently readable, stocked with characters and relationships easy to invest in, even when things get a little queasy making. Irving has been cranking out novels for 54 years, establishing a consistent generosity of spirit that continues through his most recent book."—Boston Globe
"Powerfully cinematic...Irving’s portrayal of a shooting in a crowded venue, for instance, is rendered with such visual acuity and kinetic energy that I’d swear I saw it rather than read it....Whenever “The Last Chairlift” is actively expanding the boundaries of what a family can be — the story feels vital and exciting."—WASHINGTON POST
"Here the consistent pleasure is an extended family whose distinctive voices deliver thoughtful messages of tolerance, understanding, and affection for those who are different."—KIRKUS REVIEWS
"Irving’s majestic latest, his first since Avenue of Mysteries (2015), is a multigenerational portrait as colorful and varied as it is complex and quirky as it echoes and pays homage to the author’s own rich literary history. ... Irving infuses the narrative with countless comedic set pieces, some farcical, others wistfully tender. The emotionally resonant result is sweepingly cinematic, reminding the reader that Irving has a screenwriting Oscar. Autobiographical snippets and splashes of brilliance buttress the themes of death and aging, memory and identity, in an elegiac testimony to the many facets of familial love...a big, immersive novel."—Booklist
"His enormous imagination, his storytelling gifts, and his intelligence are all on display."—Publishers Weekly
"Irving fills the pages with history, insight, opinion, and themes of family love and tolerance.... fans of the author's trademark homespun prose and delicate way with words will find much to savor here."—BAY AREA REPORTER
“It’s long. But don’t let that dissuade you. Let it excite you that there’s that much new John Irving material to read. I mean, John Irving! "The World According to Garp!" "A Prayer for Owen Meany!" "The Cider House Rules!" "A Widow For One Year!" His first novel in seven years takes place in Aspen, Colorado, in 1941. It follows Little Ray, a former national skier, who moves back east to have her son. Years later, her grown son returns to the Hotel Jerome in Aspen where he encounters some ghosts. Read on. You won’t be able to stop."—Good Morning America
"A story that’s packed with emotion, insight and compassion for our flawed humanity....With Irving celebrating his 80th birthday earlier this year, his publisher has announced that The Last Chairlift will be his last big novel. For all the enjoyment more modest works may bring, this one is a fitting valediction to his distinguished literary career."—Book Page
Praise for John Irving
“It is impossible to imagine the American – or international – literary landscape without John Irving…. He is as close as one gets to a contemporary Dickens in the scope of his celebrity and the level of his achievement.”—Time
“At the base of Irving’s own moral concerns is a rare and lasting regard for human kindness.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Wickedly knowing, mischievously post-modern and magical realist along the lines of Günter Grass, Gabriel García Márquez and Robertson Davies.”—Time Out, London
“When reading an Irving novel, the outside world becomes just a distraction, and real life happens inside the reader’s head.”—Der Spiegel, Hamburg
“He is more than popular. He is a Populist, determined to keep alive the Dickensian tradition that revels in colorful set pieces...and teaches moral lessons.”—The New York Times
“Irving offers…a faith in patient storytelling and the conviction that narrative hunger is part of our essence.”—The Globe and Mail, Toronto
“Because of his relentless determination…John Irving has become the incarnation of the ‘great American novelist’ par excellence with his fabulous gift as a storyteller and ability to give food for thought.”—L’Express, Paris
“Irving’s sometimes burlesque but always moving novels are a plea for mercy and tolerance.”—De Groene Amsterdammer, Amsterdam
“Irving’s novels are not just page-turners. Time and time again, he forces readers to consider important social issues…in a way reminiscent of Dickens.”—The Guardian, London
“Irving’s characters can beguile us onto thin ice and persuade us to dance there. His instinctive mark is the moral choice stripped bare, and his aim is impressive.”—The Washington Post Book World
“More than forty years [after Garp], thanks to his devastating irony, quiet provocation, comical obsessions, priapic debauchery, sex and neuroses on all levels, John Irving remains unrivaled.”—Le Monde, Paris