John Irving: “The Last Chairlift” – Culture

It’s one of the strongest scenes in John Irving’s new novel The Last Chairlift, the first that the now 81-year-old author has published in seven years. And one that typifies what Irving has in mind with his writing. It is set in 1968. Matthew Zimmerman, known as Zim, a high school wrestler from a family with a glorious military tradition, was killed in action in Vietnam. The family invites you to a memorial service. In accordance with the situation at the time, supporters and opponents of the war meet there, and the piety of the occasion hardly prevents a fight. But where is the dead soldier’s father, Colonel Zimmermann? Adam, the novel’s first-person narrator, follows the housekeeper Elmira, who is carrying a large soup pot, into the street. A picnic? “Well, not quite. You’ll see.”

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