There are so many fabulous writers to come out of America my personal favourite has been doing this for a long time and has written a total of 14 novels, some of them fairly weighty. Compared to the likes of Stephen King this is nothing but I feel that John Irving puts a bit of himself in all the books that he writes. His output is variable in quality but I love the detailed characterization and subtle sense of humor that exist in all his books.
John Irving was born in New Hampshire in the 40’s and has defected to Canada and lives in Toronto. It does seem that his best work was in the first few years of his writing career, all of my favourites fall in the fist half of his writing life. Sorry John.
I read the bulk of his work during my long trips to SE Asia and India, which was a time in my life when I had the luxury of time for reading lengthy drawn out prose.
My two favourite John Irving novels.
I couldn’t choose just one, I tried but I couldn’t
The World According to Garp
This is a coming of age tale of a boy with a famous feminist nurse for his mother. We follow the life of T.S. Garp from conception to death in all the details. Its a tragedy, its a comedy, some of it seems to be autobiographical but some is far too silly.
A Prayer for Owen Meany
It has been years since I have read this book, and I may be due a rereading. The opening lines of :
“I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice- not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God.”
I am NOT a Christian and most books where the main character is convinced that he is an instrument of God I would run a mile but this book doesn’t have that effect. I guess the fact that this wasn’t the first John Irving book that I had read helped an fact it has the opposite effect. I love the fact that the narrator is not the main character but one of his friends who is the most unlikely hero, in being a boy who being unnaturally small with a weird voice is a probably victim, but is instead a hero.
It has been years since I have read either of these books, and I think they probably deserve a rereading sometime soon.
My Least Favourite
The Fourth Hand
A man who has a hand transplant due to an injury finds that his new hand has a mind of its own. Ok I found this very silly and couldn’t suspend disbelief at all. Quirky I can cope with but just plain daft, no.
Who is your favourite author from the United States, use the linky or leave a comment.