Owen Meany, Basketball, Writer discussed on BBC Radio 4's Bookclub


On BBC. Radio, four. John Irving is with us talking about a prayer for Owen Meany. Every time I've read the book, there are parts that I laugh out loud as I wonder as to say it's a terribly funny boot isn't ten. We've been having a extremely sort of deep conversation, but even the, it's hilarious, speak for yourself. Do you as a writer laugh out loud while you're writing the book? And do you conceive in part at least in part as a coming novel? I have to say that I think of all of my novels as comic novels you can write with a lot of intention -ality. You can construct a story of your own design. You can give characters the names you choose. You can make happen anything you want to make happen, but you have as a writer, no control over whether you are funny or not. If you're not funny, you can't be funny. Ever. And if you have a naturally comic voice, it will emerge even in the most horrible moments and you can't help it even when you're telling and essentially melancholic and sad story. When people ask me his voice, how does it sound? It's not just the voice I imitate what line of Owens do. I always say, when I'm asked to imitate his voice, he our mother has the best breasts of all the mother. Yeah, he he says a lot of things, but that's the liner always give. That's the only thing I can remember. One of the what's always strikes me about your books. And this one in particular is that you have such extraordinary events in them cows coming downstairs with headmasters at the whale mother's getting killed by baseball's and so on. You kind of somehow neutralize by full telling many of them talk about many times before they actually happened. Yes. Jim said, we know from the off that, oh, in the toe in kills the mother in the first few patriot doesn't. She isn't actually dead until quite in. Yes, it's true. That's very good observation. I think if you're aware that the events of your story are stretching credibility. You have to make an effort to make the incredible believable, and I do that in two ways. One of the ways you can diffuse introduce is just tell flatly, say right out. He. Always limped because he lost the toes of his left foot to a lawn mower accident when he was child which turned out to be a fortunate thing, but I'll get to that or something. And then when one gets to the event, it is both less peculiar and spectacular than it might have been if you'd walked into the middle of the accident. You see what I mean? So one of the ways you diffuse the unlikely is to just sort of foretell it or foreshadow it in a totally deadpan way. Oh, well, yeah, that happened and I'll get to that. That's one way the other way is if the detail is indelible enough, if you make the detail like the shot, the basketball shot, which I hope that in the case of most readers, you're, you're sensing a level of exasperation. You're saying good, not this again. I mean, this is insane. It's boring. Nothing happens. It's a basketball, but what's going to happen as a result of them practicing that is really an extraordinary event by the time you get there, I think I help you to believe it that. Okay, you've seen enough of the basketball now. It's grenade and we know you, I'm we know the something in it. This question here, vivid imagery so important in this book to retain Jones, mother's memory. You use a bright red dress and a tailor's dummy and Tillerson me of Kerr's another novels by you. Can you tell me one so significant to you? There's a small..

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