Thursday, August 25, 2005

John Irving: Enough Already!

Mikaela says:
Did anyone else happen to catch John Irving on a recent Jon Stewart Daily Show?

He has another book out, which predominantly figures a young man who ... can you guess??? ... sleeps with a much-older woman. Wait, didn't he write that already? In fact, aren't MOST of his books about that, or at least, include that little tidbit somehow?

He let it be known in the interview that it's a topic he's obsessed with because he had sex with a much older woman at the age of 11 (MOST women were older at the age of 11!!!). Normally, statutory rape is not something to joke about, and his own ambiguous feelings about the situation come out in most of the books he writes about the subject.

But as one of my very favorite authors, and author of my all-time favorite book -- Prayer for Owen Meany -- I have to say, as a fan and as a concerned friend -- Enough Already!

Need to talk about it more? Write about it more? Okay. But don't make us read it! Just say no to publishing. It's not that you shouldn't publish it, it's just that I feel the need to read everything you write, but lately -- you keep writing the same book over and over.

He admitted, in fact, that he wrote this one TWICE. Once in first person and then again in third person -- to get a little objective distance from the narrator. Ahem. Try harder!

I think I'm coming down on poor John hard because Widow for One Year was so ... not worth the time it took to read it. But read it I did.

Marjorie just bought it, so I'll let her chime in when she's done. Maybe I'm just having one of those increasingly frequent "harsh days" that bring out the asshole in me.

Or maybe I just know he can do better. Maybe this last one will exorcise the literary demon. I just think his talents should be brought to bear (not the dancing kind) on other pressing issues. Otherwise he's wasting his considerable talent and my valuable time.

(Oh lordy, that sounds harsh! But I'm going with it. Damn.)


Blogger Erik Loomis said...

His demons will never be exercised. If they were, Henry Roth wouldn't have written the first 4 volumes of Mysteries of a Rude Stream late in life (is that the right title) or Philip Roth wouldn't keep writing was he does. Of course, that doesn't mean that one should read this or any of Irving's novels, as he is high in the ranks of the literary overrated.

10:01 AM  
Blogger Erik Loomis said...

It's "Mercy of a Rude Stream." God, I can't believe I got that wrong. Anyway, Henry Roth, very good writer. And very fucked up guy. Still, he's probably the best writer to ever live in Albuquerque.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

Mikaela, I couldn't agree more. I feel like Irving is become so self-indulgent he's now difficult to read. And yes, I think "Widow for One Year" was the beginning. Newsweek had an Irving interview when the latest book came out and it shows him with tatoos he got as he was delving into the life of his characters, one of which is a tatoo artist. I was half rolling my eyes looking at the picture and reading the interview, and then it hit me: "I'm rolling my eyes at John Irving - what is wrong with me?" But I think the real question is what is wrong with him? Give us another Owen Meany, another Cider House, another Garp. Please!

10:52 AM  

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