This new year hasn't started out that perfectly for me. I've had a few setbacks with colds and toothaches. I resolved to read all of Dickens beginning with, "The Pickwick Papers". Although there are some hilarious sketches of the townspeople and it is indeed entertaining, I am having a hard time putting down the John Irving novel, "In One Person". It follows the story of a gay man coming out during the 1950's and follows him through his "crushes on the wrong people" up to present time. It is exquisitely plotted and I am only through half of the book!
My real interest in this book came from a few years back when John Irving came to Boston University to give a reading of his other book, "Last Night in Twisted River". I brought my Aunt's copy of her book (that she leant me) and had it signed by the author! I said to him, "I really love your books, " trying not to sound like a version of Annie Wilkes as my heart thumped in my chest. He murmured a "thank you" and handed it back to me and I left with butterflies.
I'll never forget it because as I sat in the auditorium before he signed our books, he had asked people to fill out these notecards to ask him three different questions that he would then talk about for the duration of the reading. He did not answer anything about his writing style, which were the nature of the questions I asked. He answered questions that had to do with the subject matter of his books. One of them was a question about "The World According to Garp". He said, and I am paraphrasing because I can't remember his exact wording, "I believe that this country still has a bias to gay people and it is absurd. I think that people should have equal rights in marriage just as any man and woman have and this is why I have turned back to the subject matter that I had started with "Garp". There is just inexplicable hatred for people and there is no reason for it. I decided to write something that takes the subject head on." I have never read "The World According to Garp", although it is on my to be read list because my brother had said that out of all the books he had read, he liked that one a lot (the fact that he read that amazed me). Of John Irving'd books, I only read, "Last Night in Twisted River" and "The Fourth Hand". I tried to read "Son of the Circus" several times, but I did not get through the first fifty pages (in my defense, I was trying to read it while going to school full time).
Being in that auditorium was a treat. But what was really delicious was when Mr. Irving started to read from this new novel. Work that had only been seen by his eyes. In that hazy auditorium with the dimmed lights and the stool on which he sat, he began reading this wonderful work which I found to be amazing. I found myself thinking, I have to pick it up and then failed to figure out when it would be released. How serendipitous it was that my Aunt (again) leant me her copy of "In One Person"!
So, once I am finished with the book I am reading, I am turning all of my attention to Dickens and his many works.