Tuesday, June 28, 2005

With new novel, John Irving finds his family

A moving and beautifully crafted piece about John Irving by Dinitia Smith in today's NYT (6/28/05). In writing his new novel, Until I Find You (due out in July), Irving found the truth about his own family. Smith's writing captures the melancholy of the author, who wrote the ending to the novel before finding out that what he'd imagined about his own birth-father was true all along. It's a case of art predicting life. (Link will expire.)

While we're on Mr. Irving, the movie version of The World According to Garp (1982) still holds up as one of the few adaptations of a sprawling, complicated novel to capture most of the characters and the odd twists and turns that made reading the book so thrilling. If you've never seen it, Robin Williams, playing the title role, had not yet developed the annoying tics and mannerisms displayed in his later work. He's actually good. And the young Glenn Close, only a few years older than Williams, plays his mother, Jenny Fields, the ramrod-straight nurse who becomes a feminist icon. John Lithgow plays a woman, Roberta Muldoon, without making her camp. Watch for a quick cameo by Amanda Plummer as Ellen James, the tongueless symbol of woman-as-victim. And director George Roy Hill shows up briefly as the pilot of the little plane that crashes into Garp's house.

Do not, for any reason, ever watch the film version of Irving's The Hotel New Hampshire (1984) starring Beau Bridges, Jodie Foster and Rob Lowe. It's so bad, it could ruin your year.

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