John Winslow Irving (born John Wallace Blunt Jnr) was born in New Hampshire in 1942 and whilst still at school became a wrestler and coach. He published his first novel at the age of 26, which flopped.
In the late 60’s he took a class with Kurt Vonnegut at The University of Iowa and then produced two further novels, both of which sunk without a trace.
Now in his early 30’s he took up the position of Assistant Professor of English at a college and decided to approach another publisher with his 4th novel, which was obviously a good decision, as The World According to Garp became an international best seller.
“Garp” propelled Irving to success and his subsequent novels (The Cider House Rules, A Prayer for Owen Meany, A Widow for One Year, and The Fourth Hand, to name a few) have helped establish him as one of Americas most loved writers.
Irving’s novels usually center on characters whose stories are in the recent past and who are often outsiders, trying to find their way in life. He often uses the literary technique of “story within a story” and is currently working on his next novel.
My favourite John Irving quotes:
“I spend about two to three months planning the path of the book in my head before I write the last sentence of the novel. From there I work back to the beginning. From the day I think of the last sentence to the book’s publication date, not more than a semicolon has changed.”
“I can’t imagine what the first sentence is, I can’t imagine where I want the reader to enter the story, if I don’t know where the reader is going to leave the story. So once I know what the last thing the reader hears is, I can work my way backward, like following a roadmap in reverse.”
“The building of the architecture of a novel—the craft of it—is something I never tire of.”
“I’ve always preferred writing in longhand. I’ve always written first drafts in longhand.”
“I have pretty thick skin and I think if you’re going to be in this business, if you’re going to be an actor or a writer, you better have a thick skin.”
Interview with Irving…over half an hour long but do watch it, its very good 🙂
Oh gawd, yeah, a thick skin *gulp* lol. I’m not sure I have it, or rather, enough of one 😉 Anyone got any tips on developing a thick skin?
- The World According To Garp, John Irving, 1978 (whatihaveinmindblog.wordpress.com)