Random House, Jul 2001, 26.95, 316 pp.
Drop dead gorgeous hunk Patrick Wallingford is covering the Great Ganesg Circus in Junagadh, India following up on the death of a male trapeze artist and the fight over using safety nets. When the lions begin roaring, Patrick takes his microphone and sticks it inside the cage only to have a hungry beast sever his left hand and wrist while on international TV.
Patrick knows that his chances of becoming an anchor ended with the maiming of his hand even if he received tons of sympathy. However, a new opportunity surfaces when eminent surgeon Dr. Nicholas Zajac decides on performing the first hand transplant, using Patrick as his patient. Packer fan Doris Clausen offers the hand of her healthy and living spouse because she wants the beautiful Patrick whole. However, she demands hand visits and he impregnate her in exchange for the extremity. Meanwhile instead of calm before he tries the impossible, Nicholas deals with his own personal nightmares that could impact the success of the first hand transplant operation.
THE FOURTH HAND is an entertaining condemnation of media excesses using loss, broken relationships and all under the news spotlight. The story line is humorous though at times is undecided between acrimonious hyperbolic satire and realistic condemnation. Still, in the world according to John Irving, this second chance redemption tale is an emotional story that tackles the reader in a blitz and never lets go until atonement comes for one and all including a wristlocked overzealous reviewer.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner