John Irving, Dickens, Writer discussed on BBC Radio 4's Bookclub
Hello, and welcome to a book club encounter with an Ovallis who calls himself a carpenter building stories. John Irving became a fulltime right at after the success of the world according to garp in the late seventies. And since then he's become the kind of writer about whom people always ask. When's the next one coming at the novel were talking about today with as usual couple of dozen readers sitting alongside the author is a prayer for Owen Meany a story stamped with John Irving style and serve and set in his home territory of New Hampshire. It starts with a terrible accident at a baseball game and ends with Owens death in a parody of his favorite short in the basketball court and tells of the effect that this strange young man, he doesn't get beyond his twenties has on everyone around him. He'll so cut his with him the belief that he's the agent of God's work on earth and in the. Vil in a way he is, you'd have to look a long way to find a character outwardly unappealing and so compelling. One of his most disturbing traits, for example, is his high pitched voice unsettling from the very start of the book. John Irving, welcome to book club. Thank you. I knew taste that one of the books that had a big effect in you was great expectations. Great expectations also begins with the story of a boy and his relationship with his family. And that seems to be something not just in this book, but in many of you books that moves you and drives you on. Yes, it was one of the things that attracted me as a teenager to dickens, but the other element in dickens that attracted me as a wood be writer is that as a novelist, he is very theatrical. I knew the theater and loves the theater as a little boy before I was old enough for a sophisticated enough to read novels as difficult as those great nineteenth century novels, I really couldn't read dickens or hardy or horse on or Melville until I was a teenager, but my mom was a prompter in a local, amateur Seattle society. So as a kid, I spent a lot of time backstage with the actors. And before I imagined myself as a writer, I mentioned that I might like to be an actor on stage and there is something that all of dickens that has a staged. And dramatic and how childhood informs who the adult is going to be. And that a child growing up hasn't been told or doesn't know, or is mistaken about concerning his own family. Let me open it up. Let's have our first question. The first line is remarkable. Many classic novels are also memorable for their first lines and own meanings. No exception. Was that a conscious choice or just where you happen to start the story I sentences are perhaps the most conscious choice of all the sentences in all my novels. Because as you may know, I begin a book by writing the last sentence I the first couple of times it happened. I thought it was an accident. I thought it was a kind of odd habit that I surely one day would outgrow, but the last sentences kept coming. So by the time I got to a preference in Meany or which was my seventh novel. I was very much aware that this was the way I wrote and the process of writing that last sentence first and then working my way back. Through the story is one that by the time I I know what the first sentence should be. I then no, the whole book you giving away some terrible trade secrets here. Oh no. Quite the contrary. I have never recommended what I do to someone else. I think that would be insane. But the first line. And you mentioned Melville who one of the great first lines of all time. Short sentence though, short-sentence great, boom sentence, long book, Amish, mound, and led away. Yeah, we just the first paragraph of a prayer thrown meaning. I am doomed to remember with a wreck DeVos not because of his voice or because he was the smallest person I ever knew or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death..