Monday, March 22, 2010

I've Got a Crush On: John Irving


My bookshelf stack of John Irving, with my owls Bernard and Irving keeping watch. John Irving is one of my top ten favorite authors. I fell absolutely head over heels in love with him while reading The World According to Garp, which gave me such a singularly unique and pleasurable feeling during the entire reading that I am scared to ever read it again. I don't want to change the memory. To me, that book is magic. To explain why is impossible without a lengthy essay, but I will say that it evokes a distillation of the life of a writer and parent that is totally fascinating and dark and rich and poignant and uses the purity of dark comedy to expose the way life feels on the inside, while wonderfully illustrating the outside. Other favorites include A Prayer for Owen Meany and A Widow For One Year. The essence of my love for John Irving is his voice. He has a wonderful intelligence, fascinating characters, wonderfully convoluted and interesting plots, the graphic adult life that I like to read about in what I secretly think of as 'real novels' but it is his voice, at once recognizable and completely immersing, that I fell in love with. His phrasings, the way he rides hard on some words repeatedly, the cadence...it's like listening to the best bedtime story ever.
Annie said...

Hi Maggie, You've definitely made me want to read John Irving. I never have. Thanks!

Maggie May said...

Annie I'm excited for you to read him! You have to get back to me and tell me what you think :))

Simply Mel said...

LOVE John Irving! I've read A Prayer for Owen Meany at least 4 times, and A Widow For One Year ~ definitely top 10 of my favorite books!

BTW, you turned me onto the Eleanor Roosevelt biography. Thank you! What a woman!

Maggie May said...

Mel I am so glad you tried the Eleanor Roosevelts!!! She is my hero, seriously, what a woman!

Therese said...

Officially on my reading list. Can't wait. I am sending you a big THANK YOU! I was very grateful to see your comments... You have a crush on John Irving, and I have a crush on your writing skills :) Means a lot...

Elizabeth said...

agreed, agreed, agreed (I'm having a new or a re-love affair with a group of male writers, Irving among them)

Tania said...

A Prayer For Owen Meany is the book that upon reading and then re-reading, made me laugh out loud and cry great, drippy tears in equal measure (most of it on crowded public transport). Twice in my travels I have come across an in-public, laugh-out-loud reader. Both times prompted by the very same Irving brilliance.

Murr Brewster said...

I felt that way about Ada by Nabokov. I didn't read it for thirty years and then I got it out again, and didn't get it at all. I think the problem was I got stupider.

Meg said...

You are divine!

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Irving is a great writer. I love coming of age books for some reason and 'A Prayer for Owen Meany' captivated me. I still have to read Garp.

Brigindo said...

Annie is right, you certainly make him sound appealing. I read World According to Garp when I was young and not yet a mother. I remember loving it but never read anything else. I'll have to revisit that book and some of his others.

Kass said...

When I was going through my divorce, I read every self-help book imaginable, but it was The World According To Garp that finally lifted me out of the deep depression.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I love Irving, too, Maggie. My favorite character of fiction may well be the grandmother in Owen Meany.

Thinking of you,

SB

thenextarrow said...

my mother is a big john irving fan, so i grew up with his paperbacks all around the house. the cider house rules is genius.

LOVE this photo!

xo Alison

Mel said...

I love John Irving too, and feel the same way about Garp - it was a special time, a special summer and Irving's writing was a revelation to my young mind. I haven't reread it for the same reasons. I have reread A Prayer for Owen Meany several times and it is probably my favorite. Ruth from a Widow for One Year is a character I keep in my heart forever. "I remember everything." Gives me chills.
Have you ever read the Water Method Man? Its been decades, but I remember laughing quite a bit.
What did you think about Last Night in Twisted River? I can still cry into my sauces remembering it!

Love the owls!

Still Life With Coffee said...

I love him too! And I can relate to not wanting to read a book a second time because the first time was such an incredible experience you wouldn't want to change the memory. That is so true. Sometimes a book strikes the right cord because of where I am in life and later in life... well.... it might not be the same.

Life As I Know It said...

I love John Irving, too!

Heather said...

new to your blog - but i love john irving - i read his books in my early 20's often reading them at stop lights (ok sometinmes while driving)on my way home from work - couldn't get enough!

my 13 year old book club is about to read (will be a re-read for me) a prayer for owen meany.

who else do you love? (i imagine i will too and always need a good recommendation)

have you ever read the river why by david james duncan? do!

Nancy C said...

I named my oldest after Owen Meany. That gives you just a taste of how much a adore this writer.

mrs mediocrity said...

I have a love hate relationship with John...I have read almost all of his books and really loved all of them but, then, somehow underneath that love they always leave me feeling a little...well, disturbed.
A Widow from One Year is my favorite, I think, but also The Water-Method Man. Regardless of my issues, he is definitely a great writer.

Jen O. said...

I'm reading Widow for One Year right now for my book club. I'm just at the beginning, but I can tell that this book is special. I kind of wish I had bought it instead of borrowing it from the library. I might just buy it anyway.

Rachael said...

I'm so glad you posted this! I have never read John Irving, but I have a copy of "A Prayer for Owen Meany" on my bedside to-read pile. Will move it up in the stack now!

P.S. I checked out Robert B. Parker's first Spenser novel from the library and read it last week while on vacation. I had never read him either until you wrote about it and piqued my interest. I was delighted to see the entire shelf full of his books at the library. I love a good series! This should keep me busy for awhile! =)

Maggie May said...

Yay Rachael! That makes my day, that I clued you into an author I adore :)

Angie Muresan said...

Love John Irving! A Widow for One Year, I've read so many times.

anymommy said...

I loved A Prayer for Owen Meanie. I'll have to get The World According to Garp - haven't read it and now I have to do it!

Terresa said...

I'll never forget blindly opening "The world according to Garp" -- a paperback edition, my uncle's book, years ago, I was still quite young. The description was of a kitchen sink, comparing it to a vagina. That striking image has never left me.

Quirky, brilliant, Irving.

Lorenzo at the Alchemist's Pillow said...

Congratulations Maggie Mae, Flux Capacitor was just picked as Blog of Note for today

Tonia said...

Hey, congrats! You made blog of note! Well deserved...and John Irving is a legend - love the Cider House Rules the most I think.

*mary* said...

John Irving is great. Congratulations on being the Blog of Note!

thais. said...

your post made me feel like reading John Irving right now! but also made me fall in love with Bernard and Irving...

Just Jules said...

oh man I used to visit you and lost your addy... now you are blog of note. I remember when :)

Zip n Tizzy said...

Absolutely - Hands down favorite!

Elizabeth said...

Yes yes! I feel the same way about Cider House Rules...complete magic. I can even remember all the places where I read that book.

Heidi said...

can't wait to get reading, he sounds wonderful! love your owls too, Hx

Angie said...

i love the owl paperweights :)
i haven't read any john irving .. i know - blasphemy! will make time for it soon :D

friend said...

john irving is the first author I look for in a used book store, thrift shop, garage and estate sales, and sale tables. I have collected more than I have read and when I feel in the mood, I read his wonderful descriptions of true life and feel what his characters feel and I am transformed. I have reread a few, after years of living my own life, with great surprise at how much I recognize and how much I see for the first time. Recently I had trouble enveloping myself in 'the water method man'(my first time) so it sits on my bedside table, awaiting an acceptable welcome. JI never disappoints.

peace be with you and your family,
~L

Kevin said...

I've read A Prayer for Owen Meaney...brilliant work!

CAPow! said...

john irving is one of my favorites (and i love your owls!)

Radish King said...

Me too! Once years ago my son and I drove to the Oregon coast and listened to The World According To Garp on tape and when we got home there was still have the last tape left so we drove around and around and around the block until it was finished. I had read it many times. It was his first. We were both spellbound. We both cried and laughed and even now 15 years later he'll say out of the blue GARP BIT BONKIE!

Congratulations on your baby bump:))))

Kelly said...

Thanks for stopping by my humble blog. I adore John Irving. We read A Prayer for Owen Meany in high school, and that was it. I was in love. The World According to Garp is probably my favorite, though. I have a strange level of comfort when reading his books that I think derives from reading someone who is clearly so comfortable in this language, and tells stories with this modest and immense skill.

previous next