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John Irving on stage in Toronto

John Irving

Last Sunday I snuck away from regular family weekend activities to see John Irving at the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) here in Toronto. Regular readers of this blog (both of you) may recall that John Irving has been an inspiration to me. The emotional impact of his writing and the laughs along the way make him one of my literary heroes. A Prayer for Owen Meany, quite possibly my all time favourite novel, restored my interest in fiction back in the late 80s, and I’ve never looked back. Needless to say, seeing him in person, along with hundreds of other fans as part of the IFOA, was a thrill.

He talked about this writing process, including his immutable first step of writing the last sentence of his novel first, before anything else. It was fascinating to hear him talk about how it all comes together. He then read from his new novel, Last Night inTwisted River. One thing I’ve learned in the last year, as I’ve read with other authors at a variety of festivals and readings, is that not all authors can read. There is an art to reading well, not to mention a smidgen of theatre. It is a performance of sorts. John Irving had the room spellbound. I can’t imagine anyone listening to him read and then walking by the book table without snagging one on the way out.

Finally, he was interviewed by Seamus O’Regan, one of our TV morning show hosts, before the floor was opened for questions. It was a memorable event for me. I’m about to start Last Night in Twisted River, said to be his most autobiographical novel to date.

Last Night in Twisted River

4 responses to “John Irving on stage in Toronto”

  1. Evadne says:

    Hi Terry: Thanks for posting this! By the time I noticed John Irving on the IFOA schedule, I had already bought tickets for a Humber Writers’ Circle on Sunday morning and the GG Finalists event on Monday night. What a shame that I had to miss it – John Irving, and in particular A Prayer for Owen Meany, is one of my big influences. What I particularly like about that book is that you read about a number of individually insignificant events, and enjoy them as entertaining anecdotes, but then they come together in a powerful and surprising climax (I have tried to do this in my book, now called The 29th Day. Hopefully, the people reviewing Version 2 will be able to tell me whether I have achieved my goal or not!) Knowing that John Irving always writes his last sentence first (what an interesting fact!), I will be tempted to read the last sentence first when I get to Last Night in Twisted River, just so I can see the theme developing through the book!

  2. metro mama says:

    He was wonderful, wasn’t he. I just finished the book and loved it.

  3. I just finished reading Last Night in Twisted River. The man is a genius.

  4. Terry Fallis says:

    He is a master. Thanks Glenda. Hope you’re book is doing well, not to mention your journey.

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