Last evening I was lucky enough to be invited to a dinner with John Irving, thrown by Random House, to celebrate the forthcoming publication of Last Night in Twisted River. About 16 booksellers and a handful of publishing people joined Irving and his wife at a restaurant in Boston. I was not expecting him to be so charming. What normally happens at these dinners is that the author rotates from table to table between courses. My table got him for the entree. I learned a lot of things last night, such as that he writes the last sentence of a book first. Writing seems to be a laborious process for him. Often things come to him while he’s doing other things. Also he knows a lot of famous people. He mentioned Michael Ondaatje and Edmund White. And he thinks Hemingway is way overrated. Because he worked on the screenplays for some of the movies made of his books, he’s spent a lot of time with celebrities too. Wilford Brimley took men to brothels! Who knew! My brain is still trying to wrap itself around last evening, hence once long paragraph here. I left the restaurant thinking that John Irving was perhaps one of the most charming authors I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Now I have to go back and read his older books again.
I loved Hotel New Hampshire! I’ve only read a few of his — Owen Meaney, Garp, Until I Find You.
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I’m so glad somebody agrees with me about Hemingway! And not just somebody, but one of my long time favorite writers. I suppose I’ve only read two of his novels (Owen Meany and World According to Garp), but they were mind blowing at the time.
I gave up on Irving several books ago. Too windy, and long-winded and ambiguous. Maybe it’s time to give him another go.
Did you get the incredible pleasure of meeting John Updike?
Listening to an in-his-cups James Dickey read scenes from Deliverance?
Grokking the exceptionally charismatic Carl Hiassen?
Thanks for the memories.
Sounds like a fine time. Irving is also quite a good speaker, heard him years ago when I was in law school. Best–Martin Clark