Books

Avenue of Mysteries

John Irving

Juan Diego’s little sister is a mind reader. As a teenager, he struggles to keep anything secret – Lupe knows all the worst things that go through his mind. And sometimes she knows more. What a terrible burden it is to know – or to think you know – your future, or worse, the future of someone you love. What might a young girl be driven to do if she thought she had the power to change what lies ahead?

Later in life, Juan Diego embarks on a journey to fulfil a promise he made in his youth. It is a long story and it has long awaited an ending, but Juan Diego is unable to write the final chapters.

This is the story of what happens when the future collides with the past.

In One Person

John Irving

A compelling novel of desire, secrecy, and sexual identity, In One Person is a story of unfulfilled love — tormented, funny, and affecting — and an impassioned embrace of our sexual differences. Billy, the bisexual narrator and main character, tells the tragicomic story (lasting more than half a century) of his life as a ‘sexual suspect’, a phrase first used by John Irving in 1978 — in his landmark novel of ‘terminal cases’, The World According to Garp.

His most political novel since The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving’s In One Person is a poignant tribute to Billy’s friends and lovers — a theatrical cast of characters who defy category and convention. Not least, In One Person is an intimate and unforgettable portrait of the solitariness of a bisexual man who is dedicated to making himself ‘worthwhile’.

Trying To Save Piggy Sneed

John Irving

In a spirited opening piece, John Irving explains how he became a writer. There follow six scintillating stories written over the past twenty years, inlcuding The Pension Grillparzer, previously only to be found inside The World According to Garp, and now given its first independent airing.

My Movie Business

John Irving

John Irving's memoir begins with his account of the distinguished career and medical writings of the novelist's grandfather Dr Frederick C. Irving, a renowned obstetrician and gynaecologist, and includes Mr Irving's incisive history of abortion politics in the United States. But My Movie Business focuses primarily on the thirteen years John Irving spent adapting his novel The Cider House Rules for the screen - for four different directors.

Mr Irving also writes about the failed effort to make his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, into a movie, about two of the films that were made from his novels (but not from his screenplays), The World According to Garp and The Hotel New Hampshire; about his slow progress at shepherding his screenplay of A Son of the Circus into production.

Not least, and in addition to its qualities as a memoir - anecdotal, comic, affectionate and candid - My Movie Business is an insightful essay on the essential differences between writing a novel and writing a screenplay.

Last Night in Twisted River

John Irving

In 1954, in the cookhouse of a logging and sawmill settlement in northern New Hampshire, a twelve-year-old boy mistakes the local constable's girlfriend for a bear. Both the twelve-year-old and his father become fugitives, pursued by the constable. Their lone protector is a fiercely libertarian logger, once a river driver, who befriends them.

In a story spanning five decades, Last Night in Twisted River - John Irving's twelfth novel - depicts the recent half-century in the United States as a world 'where lethal hatreds were generally permitted to run their course.'

From the novel's taut opening sentence to its elegiac final chapter, what distinguishes Last Night in Twisted River is the author's unmistakable voice, the inimitable voice of an accomplished storyteller.

Until I Find You

John Irving

'According to his mother, Jack Burns was an actor before he was an actor, but Jack's most vivid memories of childhood were those moments when he felt compelled to hold his mother's hand. He wasn't acting then.'

Jack Burns' mother, Alice, is a tattoo artist in search of the boy's father, a virtuoso organist named William who has fled America to Europe. To fund her journey, she plies her trade in the seaports of the Baltic coast. But her four-year-old son's errant father can't be found, and soon even Jack's memories of that perplexing time are called into question. It is only when he becomes a Hollywood actor in later life that what he has experienced in the past comes into telling play in his present......

The Fourth Hand

John Irving

'Imagine a young man on his way to a less-than-thirty-second event - the loss of his left hand, long before he reached middle age.'

While reporting a story from India, a New York television journalist has his left hand eaten by a lion; millions of TV viewers witness the accident. In Boston, a renowned hand surgeon awaits the opportunity to perform the nation's first hand transplant. A married woman in Wisconsin wants to give the one-handed reporter her husband's left hand, that is, after her husband dies. But the husband is alive, relatively young, and healthy...

A Widow For One Year

John Irving

'One night when she was four and sleeping in the bottom bunk of her bunk bed, Ruth Cole awoke to the sound of lovemaking - it was coming from her parents' bedroom.'

This is the story of Ruth Cole. It is told in three parts: on Long Island, in the summer of 1958, when she is only four; in 1990, when she is an unmarried woman whose personal life is not nearly as successful as her literary career; and in the autumn of 1995, when Ruth Cole is a forty-one-year-old widow and mother. She's also about to fall in love for the first time...

The Imaginary Girlfriend

John Irving

From a novelist known for the complexity of his novels - they are also long - comes an autobiography of compelling simplicity; it is also short. Dedicated to the memory of two wrestling coaches and two writer friends, The Imaginary Girlfriend is a lucid portrait of the writers and wrestlers who played a mentor role in John Irving's development as a novelist, a wrestler and a wrestling coach. Moreover, this candid memoir portrays a father's dedication to his children: Irving coached his sons Colin and Brendan to New England championship titles - a championship that, as a competitor, he himself was denied.

John Irving began writing and wrestling when he was fourteen. He competed as a wrestler for twenty years, he was certified as a referee for twenty-four and he coached the sport until he was forty-seven. His thirty-three years in wrestling are three times those he spent as a student and a teacher of Creative Writing; yet his concise autobiography details the interrelationship of the disciplines of writing and wrestling - from the days when Irving was a beginner at both pursuits until his fourth wrestling-related surgery at the age of fifty-three.

The Imaginary Girlfriend is both a work of the utmost literary accomplishment and a paradigm for living.

A Son Of The Circus

John Irving

'The doctor was fated to go back to Bombay; he would keep returning again and again - if not forever, at least for as long as there were dwarves in the circus.'

Born a Parsi in Bombay, sent to university and medical school in Vienna, Dr Farrokh Daruwalla is a Canadian citizen - a 59-year-old orthopaedic surgeon, living in Toronto. Once, twenty years ago, Dr Daruwalla was the examining physician of two murder victims in Goa. Now, two decades later, the doctor will be reacquainted with the murderer...

A Prayer For Owen Meany

John Irving

'If you care about something you have to protect it. If you're lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.'

Eleven-year-old Owen Meany, playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire, hits a foul ball and kills his best friend's mother. Owen doesn't believe in accidents; he believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is both extraordinary and terrifying.

The Cider House Rules

John Irving

'The reason Homer Wells kept his name was that he came back to St Cloud's so many times, after so many failed foster homes, that the orphanage was forced to acknowledge Homer's intention to make St Cloud's his home.'

Homer Wells' odyssey begins among the apple orchards of rural Maine. As the oldest unadopted child at St Cloud's orphanage, he strikes up a profound and unusual friendship with Wilbur Larch, the orphanage's founder - a man of rare compassion and an addiction to ether. What he learns from Wilbur takes him from his early apprenticeship in the orphanage surgery, to an adult life running a cider-making factory and a strange relationship with the wife of his closest friend...

The Hotel New Hampshire

John Irving

'The first of my father's illusions was that bears could survive the life lived by human beings, and the second was that human beings could survive a life led in hotels.'

So says John Berry, son of a hapless dreamer, brother to a cadre of eccentric siblings, and chronicler of the lives lived, the loves experienced, the deaths met, and the myriad strange and wonderful times encountered by the family Berry. Hoteliers, pet-bear owners, friends of Freud (the animal trainer and vaudevillian, that is), and playthings of mad fate, they 'dream on' in this funny, sad, outrageous, and moving novel.

The 158-Pound Marriage

John Irving

On a New England campus, Viennese housewife Utchka and her aspiring writer husband live a rather placid life with their two children.Until, that is, they meet Severin Winter, Professor of German and wrestling coach, and his delicate wife Edith at a faculty party. Utchka and Severin are rather taken with one another, and, conveniently, their spouses appear to be similarly smitten.A bizarre ménage a quatre is the result of these convoluted desires, and what starts out as a bit of fun is soon subject to the darker machinations of obsession,..

The Water-Method Man

John Irving

Fred 'Bogus' Trumper is a wayward knight-errant in the battle of the sexes and the pursuit of happiness. He also happens to have a complaint more serious than Portnoy's. Yet he stubbornly clings to the notion that he'll make something of his life, and is about to commit himself to a second marriage that bears remarkable resemblance to his first.

The Water-Method Man is a work of cosummate artistry and comic invention, bizarre imagery and sharp social and psychological observation.

Setting Free The Bears

John Irving

'The brown bears paced, brushing their thick coats against the bars; their heads swayed low to the ground, in rhythm with some ritual of stealth they were born knowing and pointlessly never forgot'

It is 1967 and two Viennese university students decide to liberate the Vienna Zoo, as was done after World War II. The eccentric duo, Graff and Siggy, embark on an adventure-filled motorbike tour of Austria as they prepare for "the great zoo bust." But their grand scheme will have both comic and gruesome consequences, as they are soon to find out...

The World According To Garp

John Irving

This is the life and times of T. S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields - a feminist leader ahead of her times. It is also the life and death of a famous mother and her almost-famous son; theirs is a world of sexual extremes - even of sexual assassinations. It is a novel rich with 'lunacy and sorrow'; yet the dark, violent events of the story do not undermine a comedy both ribald and robust. It provides almost cheerful, even hilarious evidence of its famous last line: "In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases."

Biography

John Irving published his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, in 1968. He has been nominated for a National Book Award three times - winning once, in 1980, for the novel The World According to Garp. He also received an O. Henry Award in 1981 for the short story 'Interior Space'. In 1992, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 2000, he won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules - a film with seven Academy Award nominations. In 2001, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His most recent novel is Last Night in Twisted River.