The Mark Blog

Bookmark This: John Irving

John Irving is an American novelist and Academy Award-winning screenwriter. Irving achieved critical and popular acclaim after the international success of The World According to Garp in 1978. Some of Irving's novels, such as The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany, have been bestsellers. Five of his novels have been adapted to film including A Widow for One Year, pictured above. He won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1999 for his script The Cider House Rules. We are sharing an interview that Irving did with the New York Times Book Review. He talks about his writing habits, and reveals what book made him want to be a writer.

Here is an excerpt:

New York Times: Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel you were supposed to like, but didn’t?

John Irving: Everything by Ernest Hemingway.

NYT: What don’t you like about Hemingway?

JI: Everything, except for a few of the short stories. His write-what-you-know dictum has no place in imaginative literature; it’s advice for a journalist, not for a novelist or a playwright. Imagine if Sophocles or Shakespeare or Dickens had heeded that advice! And Hemingway’s sentences are short and simplistic enough for advertising copy. There is also the offensive tough-guy posturing — all those stiff-upper-lip, don’t-say-much men! I like Melville’s advice: “Woe to him who seeks to please rather than appall.” I love Melville. Can you love Melville and also like Hemingway? Maybe some readers can, but I can’t.

NYT: If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you want to know?

JI: There’s nothing I need or want to know from the writers I admire that isn’t in their books. It’s better to read a good writer than meet one.


Read the rest here