John Irving

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Life forces enough final decisions on us. We should have the sense to avoid as many of the unnecessary ones as we can.

John Winslow Irving (born 2 March 1942) is an American novelist and Academy Award-winning screenwriter (for The Cider House Rules, based on his novel of the same name).

Quotes[edit]

A part of adolescence is feeling that there's no one else around you who's enough like yourself to understand you.
You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed.
  • He wrote Helen that "a part of adolescence is feeling that there's no one else around you who's enough like yourself to understand you."
  • Imagination, he realized, came harder than memory.
    • The World According to Garp, ch. 5
  • In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases.
    • The World According to Garp, ch. 19
  • To each other, we were as normal and nice as the smell of bread, we were just a family. In a family even exaggerations make perfect sense.
  • You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed.
    • The Hotel New Hampshire, ch. 11
  • Life forces enough final decisions on us. We should have the sense to avoid as many of the unnecessary ones as we can.
  • [On his process for writing novels:] I can't imagine what the first sentence is, I can't imagine where I want the reader to enter the story, if I don't know where the reader is going to leave the story. So once I know what the last thing the reader hears is, I can work my way backward, like following a roadmap in reverse.
  • A reader told me recently, in London, said that 'well, I read that you write the last sentence first, so I always read your last sentence first.' And I said, 'oh, no, you're not supposed to do that.'
  • Ted Seabrooke, my wrestling coach, had a kind of Nietzschean effect on me in terms of not just his estimation of my limited abilities, but his decidedly philosophical stance about how to conduct your life, what you should do to compensate for your limitations. This was essential to me, both as a student—and not a good one—and as a wrestler who was not a natural athlete but who had found something he loved.
    • "John Irving Interviewed by Suzanne Herel." Mother Jones magazine, May/June 1997.
  • (In reference to Vermont's Act 60): This is Marxism. It's leveling everything by decimating what works ... It's that vindictive 'We've suffered, and now we're going to take money from your kid and watch you squirm'... There's a minority which is an open target in this country which no one protects, and that's rich people.
    • News. Salon (July 1, 1998).
  • I write repeatedly—against my will—of those things I fear most happening. Losing a loved one, losing a parent, losing a child. I'm in terror of losing a child. It's never happened to me, but I am clearly compelled to write about it over and over again, and in a way I think, psychologically at least, this says more about me autobiographically as a novelist than the fact that Danny Angel goes to the Iowa Writers Workshop and has Kurt Vonnegut as a teacher, which I also did.

Interview in Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews (1988)[edit]

Eighth Series, ed. George Plimpton, Penguin, 1988, ISBN 0-140-10761-4
  • Sigmund Freud was a novelist with a scientific background. He just didn’t know he was a novelist. All those damn psychiatrists after him, they didn’t know he was a novelist either.
  • Writing a novel is actually searching for victims. As I write I keep looking for casualties. The stories uncover the casualties.

External links[edit]

Wikipedia
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