Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The Best Author I Have Exactly 39 Reasons For Liking.
John Irving is The Best Author I Have Exactly 39 Reasons For Liking, and here are those reasons, in the order I thought of them [SPOILER ALERT! THERE ARE SPOILERS IN NUMERICAL LIST FORM!]:
1. "Keep passing the open windows," from The Hotel New Hampshire.
2. He writes a great sex scene -- like in The 158 Pound Marriage.
3. I know a lot more about pipe organs and tattoos thanks to Until I Find You.
4. I was a wrestler for two years in grade school. Lots of his books have characters who are wrestlers or wrestling coaches.
5. "Mrs. Ralph" in The World According To Garp. That was awesome.
6. In Catch-22, which was not by John Irving but by Joseph Heller, I'm pretty sure that Yossarian, when censoring letters, throws in "John Irving" and "Irving John" and sentences like Have you seen the john, Irving. I'm sure of that despite the fact that I can't find any references to it and my copy of Catch-22 is at home and I'm at work.
7. If you do search for "John Irving" connected with Yossarian, you will probably not find that connection made on the Internet, but you will find not-so-startling proof that Wikipedia plagiarizes others. Here's a quote from Nationmaster.com discussing Yossarian's censorship:
Therefore, Yossarian boycotts flying missions as much as possible, either through feigning illness or inventing an excuse to return to base (like a busted radio.) In fact, the book begins with Yossarian staying in the hospital due to an invented liverWashington Irving, Irving Washington, or (as gets the Chaplain into trouble with authorities) Albert T. Tappman (or R.O. Shipman in earlier editions), the Chaplain's name. condition. He busies himself by censoring letters — seemingly done arbitrarily — and signing them
And now here is a quote from Wikipedia discussing Yossarian's censorship:
Therefore, Yossarian boycotts flying missions as much as possible, either through feigning illness or inventing an excuse to return to base (like a busted radio.) In fact, the book begins with Yossarian staying in the hospital due to an invented liver condition. He busies himself by censoring letters — seemingly done arbitrarily — and signing them Washington Irving, Irving Washington, or (as gets the Chaplain into trouble with authorities) Albert T. Tappman, the Chaplain's name.
So that's yet another reason to dislike Wikidiotpedia.
8. Susie The Bear in The Hotel New Hampshire was a great character.
9. Owen Meany might be the most phenomenal protagonist in Western Literature, so go read A Prayer For Owen Meany.
10. Plus, the ending of A Prayer For Owen Meany is both anticlimactic and climactic, if that's possible and leaves you really wondering just how symbolic it was.
11. Plus, armadilloes figure prominently in A Prayer For Owen Meany and how often does that happen?
12. Plus, true story: About two years ago, I talked Sweetie into going with me to the used book sale at the UW Library and I said to her, just jokingly, that I was planning on picking up a paperback copy of the book A Prayer For Owen Meany since my old copy had been wrecked when a pipe burst in our garage, and then we went to the library and I found a paperback copy of the book A Prayer For Owen Meany so that was, like, symbolic, or fate, or something, and I bought it.
13. Sometimes, when I put Mr F and Mr Bunches to bed, I can't help but say to them, Good night, you Princes of Maine, you Kings of New England! even though they are not orphans and we live in Wisconsin. If you read The Cider House Rules, you'll know why.
14. Isn't it interesting that if you go back and re-read the last sentence of point 13, it can be read in both the past and present tense? That sentence could mean "If you have read The Cider House Rules you'll know why" and also it could mean "If you go read The Cider House Rules you'll know why." English is great that way.
15. If you read John Irving's books you'll have a new appreciation for the art of the English language the way I do.
16. Tobey Maguire was actually a pretty good pick to play Homer in the movie version of The Cider House Rules.
17. In The Fourth Hand, John Irving does really a great job of capturing exactly what Green Bay Packer fans are like.
18. I didn't think I'd like A Son Of The Circus very much but I read it because it was by John Irving and I've read every book he's written except "Trying to Save Piggy Sneed." So I read A Son Of The Circus and it was great! Seriously great. And very exotic and a lot different from his other books while also being a lot like his other books. That's a neat trick and very hard to pull off. But he does it.
19. Setting Free the Bears, his first novel, is probably better than anything I'll ever write. And that was before he had much practice or experience. That's both disheartening, and a challenge to me as a writer.
20. I also realized that I never read The Imaginary Girlfriend, probably because I'm not much interested in biographies and talk about writing. But if it's by John Irving I bet it's pretty good.
21. I didn't know what a "slush pile" was until I read Until I Find You. If you read John Irving's books, you'll realize that you know a lot more after you read them than you did before. I hope he's not just making it all up as he goes along because I take most of it as fact.
22. John Irving was one told by his wrestling coach: "Talent is overrated. That you're not very talented needn't be the end of it." That's inspiration disguised as criticism, and vice versa.
23. A Prayer For Owen Meany was the inspiration for the movie "Simon Birch" and I kind of looked like a fatter version of Simon Birch when I was young.
24. I live on a hill and I drive a stick shift car and whenever I come down the hill at night I remember that in The World According To Garp that a hill and a stick shift and some foolin' around played prominently in that book and you'll have to read it to find out why.
25. Also, the Undertoad. When we went to the ocean this summer, I warned my whole family to be careful of the undertoad and they all thought I was nuts but that's because they didn't read The World According To Garp.
26. It's hard to understand how a book can involve both a lion attacking someone and hand visitation rights and still seem so true-to-life, but if you read The Fourth Hand, you'll see that done.
27. The phrase "a sound like someone trying not to make a sound" is an excellent example of the kind of thing you'll find if you read John Irving's books that proves that point number 15 was correct.
28. That phrase was used in "A Widow For One Year" when a character wrote a children's book based on the phrase. Now, you can buy the children's book titled "A Sound Like Someone Trying Not To Make A Sound" written by John Irving.
29. I just realized that's another book by him that I haven't read, and I plan to buy that and read it to Mr F and Mr Bunches.
30. I hope it's good.
31. It's kind of cool that John Irving had a character who's a writer of children's books hear the phrase a sound like someone trying not to make a sound and then write a book about it, and then John Irving wrote a book about that, too. Life imitating art and all that.
32. 5 of John Irving's books have been made into movies.
33. He had a role in 2 of those movies.
34. John Irving tried for 13 years to have "The Cider House Rules" be made into a movie.
35. In August, 2006, John Irving teamed up with Stephen King for a little known writing project: a letter to J.K. Rowling urging her not to kill off Harry Potter in the last of the Potter books.
36. John Irving is a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
37. Miss Wurtz, a character in Until I Find You, is described this way: "To her, ... celebrities at the party were not movie stars but the actual characters they'd played. Unfortunately, these movies had overlapped in her mind-- to the extent that she'd merged the plots of several different films into one incomprehensible epic." I'm the exact same way.
38. John Irving said this one time: "I'm proudest of my novels for what's imagined in them. I think the world of my imagination is a richer and more interesting place than my personal biography." That's what reading is all about.
39. I still sometimes get sad when I think of Egg from The Hotel New Hampshire.
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