Currently Reading: In One Person
image c/o newsday.com
John Irving totally changed the game for me, in terms of both reading and writing. I started reading his books at probably way too young of an age, but they really drew me in and continue to be some of my favorites. Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to go see him speak at Sixth & I about this new book, his other novels, and writing in general. He started off somewhat politically (it was the day North Carolina voted to make the constitutional amendment against same sex marriage), but then eased into talking about his personal history as a writer and his novels.
He was funny and poignant and juvenile and incredibly interesting to hear speak. During the Q&A portion, someone asked him, "What's the deal with all the weird sex?" to which he replied, "Well, it's just easier for me to imagine having sex with everyone than having no sex at all".
One of the most interesting things he discussed was the fact that for his first four novels, he was writing only part-time. He was also teaching and coaching wrestling. After The World According to Garp blew up, he was able to write to make a living. The only problem was that he didn't know how. The struggle to sit down and write for seven or eight hours a day was enormous for him. However, he has since gotten the hang of it, and said that each of his novels has gotten technically better. We may not like them better, he said, but as the tailor who makes the suit, it's a better made suit.
I got the newest book, In One Person, that night, and am almost finished with it. I've been reading it on the metro and getting a few dirty looks (I assume because of the cover - bras are pornographic you know). Besides that, I am loving the story. It's my favorite thing about Irving - I don't feel like I'm being force fed a novel; I feel as if someone is sitting me down and weaving this wonderful story specifically for me. The novel is about a bisexual man growing up in Vermont, his adult life in New York, and the relationships and friendships he has along the way. Irving writes beautifully and his characters are as familiar and surprising as always. It feels similar to his other novels, but unique at the same time. I give it my highest recommendation possible. Along with anything else by Irving.