The Fourth Hand

by John Irving

Set in New York, this is an entertaining and highly amusing novel which highlights the commercialisation of American news programmes. Patrick Wallingford, a television news reporter, had his hand bitten off by a lion in front of millions of viewers - hence the name 'Lion Guy'. A widow offers her late husband's hand in a transplant and so begins a strange relationship. Patrick is a likeable character and I enjoyed following his exploits.


Patrick Wallingford was not an angry man; a usually even-tempered disposition was as much his trademark as his drop-dead good looks. Yet the pain of losing his left hand was Wallingford's most fiercely guarded possession. It infuriated him that his ex-wife trivialized his pain by declaring it less than hers in 'merely', as he was wont to say, giving birth ....

The anchor chair, for which he seemed destined, still eluded him. And after the accident, Wallingford's prospects dimmed. Some CEO cited 'the squeamish factor'. Who wants to watch their morning or their evening news telecast by some loser-victim type who's had his hand chomped off by a hungry lion?



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