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Location: Baltimore-DC Area

Author who writes for a living and lives for writing. // WOMB: a novel in utero (Merge Publishing 2017) // TRACKS: A Novel in Stories (Atticus Books 2011) // FLIGHTLESS GOOSE, a storybook for children (Writers Lair Books 2008) // www.EricDGoodman.com

Friday, October 14, 2005

John Irving & Me

John Irving rarely does book signings, I'm told. I hauled a couple of his hardcovers to the National Book Festival -- The Cider House Rules, The World According to Garp -- only to find out that he was exclusively signing his newest book, Until I Find You.

Irving says his eleventh novel, Until I Find You was, emotionally, the most difficult book he's written. "It was painful," he admitted. "But you don't not write something because it makes you feel uncomfortable. As a writer, you don't get to choose your obsessions."

I got out of line, went to the official bookstore tent and purchased the new Irving. I got back in line for the signing.

"I use details from my own life," Irving said. "It, like anything of mine, will have more imagination than autobiography to it. But there are always elements from my own life. Childhood is the basis of a character."

In person, Irving did not appear to be in the pain his books suggest. He came across calm, cool, comfortable, in his casual shirt and jeans, with his gum-chewing smile, basking in a long line of dedicated readers. He greeted me with a smile and signed my book. Having met Wolfe and Irving in the same day, I can see why their books gravitated to opposite ends on my bookshelf. Still, I wish I'd convinced Irving and Wolfe to join me for a drink after the festival.

As a reader, you don't choose your obsessions either.

For more on Irving, come back to Writeful. In the meantime, check out Irving's biography at the National Book Festival website.



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October 14, 2005  

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