Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A to Z Challenge: My Favorite Storytellers-- I

"I' is easy! "I" is for....

John Irving

So remember how I couldn't tell you if Bret Easton Ellis is the writer I love to hate or hate to love? Well, John Irving is the writer I LOOOOVVVVEEE and sometimes wish would shut up. Just a little.

John Irving is brilliant. When I first read A Prayer for Owen Meany, I was instantly enthralled. This is truly one of the most incredible pieces of modern storytelling I can think of. Several hundred pages long, there are moments in this book when you think "Oh my goodness, just get to the frigging point!" because it seems like SO many extraneous details. And yet, when you get the end, Irving wraps up every single detail and story arc into one evocative, astounding ending that you are nothing but ecstatic that you stuck with it.

His skill and imagination are second to none. And yet, Irving's Achilles' Heel is sometimes using his writing as a very, very preachy political platform. For instance, while I thought Cider House Rules was an amazing, beautiful book, and I actually believe in the politics outlined in it, pointing out what he believes is sometimes suffocatingly heavy-handed.

Any writers like that for you? They are brilliant, but their personal agendas sometimes color their work a bit too much?


  1. I love John Irving too.
    Endings very predictable at times tho'.
    158 pound marriage
    Water Method Man
    Hotel New Hampshire
    Also good!

  2. I haven't read any of his work...but you have inspired me! I'll be sure to look him up now.
    Good post.

  3. Your opening sentence made me laugh. I echo those sentences. Love your blog theme. Doing YA books at my other blog (yeah, I know, A to Z Challenges on two blogs...three actually...sigh). Going through the rest of your posts to see how much we have in common :-)

  4. I tried reading him when I was younger, but I never finished any of his books. It might be a case of not getting it as a young reader. Maybe if I pick up his books now, as an adult, I'd appreciate his work.

  5. Dawn-- glad you are with me on this!
    Medeia- It may be, it may not be. Most of his books are absolutely a labor of love to get through!