Thursday, May 01, 2014

Fan Boy

By the time you read this, I’ll be in the middle of what promises to be a very cool experience, one that will probably have me acting like an 8-year-old meeting his favorite baseball player.

This Thursday, May 1, I'm having dinner with one of my all-time favorite authors, John Irving.

My students are reading A Prayer for Owen Meany, and Irving is coming to Northfield Mount Hermon School to meet with my students. The kids are excited for the Q&A, but I’d bet not as fired up as their fan-boy teacher.

John Irving has often mentioned his experiences as a dyslexic student who struggled academically to survive boarding school. I, too, am dyslexic and found my academic experiences during the ’70s and ’80s trying. And like Irving, who found respite on the wrestling mat, I found the ice rink a place where I could excel no matter how futile my classroom work seemed.

I have always enjoyed Irving’s prose, the way I have James Crumley’s or even E.B. White’s. Few writers craft sentences the way those three do (or in Crumley’s and White's cases did). A Prayer for Owen Meany tops out at over 600 pages (paperback), and my students have admired the writing and absolutely loved the ending (along with their teacher) – some even cried.

I found us discussing “narrative tension” over and over. And I keep coming back to a wonderful quote I read a few years ago claiming that all great works of literature are, to some degree, mysteries. I look forward to asking Irving his thoughts on that quote; for I see Owen Meany as a wonderful mystery, in so much as all the reader's questions are answered in the truly satisfying conclusion.

Thursday at 6 p.m., before the Q&A, I’ll enter a restaurant to dine with John Irving and might even have copies of his novels in tow for him to sign.

5 comments:

A.M. Guynes/Annikka Woods said...

I would give anything to meet any of my favorite authors (though sadly two have already passed away). You are so lucky. I hope you and your students have a wonderful time.

Rick Blechta said...

I sort of ran into John Irving once. He used to live in Toronto part of the year (still may, for that matter). I was driving through a section of town called Forest Hills. At a stop sign, just as I started to move forward, two men walked right out in front me and I had to hit the brakes hard. It was John Irving deep in conversation with Peter Gzowski (a Canadian broadcasting icon). I just sat there as they sauntered across in front of me, contemplating the fact that I could have wiped out a writing legend and broadcasting legend in one fell swoop.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Wow! I can't imagine meeting John Irving.

John Corrigan said...

He was great. A lot of fun. Conversation with him is like reading one one his books. He thinks things through before he answers and gives in-depth, detailed responses to students.

Eileen Goudge said...

i had the pleasure of meeting Wallace Stegner, one of my literary idols, before he passed away. Most memorable author sighting: Eudora Welty in the elevator at the Algonquin Hotel, in NYC.