John Irving Reading

Last night I drove the 90 minutes out to Santa Monica is order to attend John Irving's reading at the Aero Theater after a really, really long week. Like long as in "grueling, exhausting, I want to shoot myself for oh-so-many reasons" long. But it's over and we're moving on. 

First of all, the parking at the Aero is a complete bitch, which I know is par for the course in that area. Driving through Santa Monica made me extremely nostalgic for my UCLA days- the Big Blue Buses look very different. I know, no one knows what that means. After parking four-ish blocks away, I joined a line that was about two blocks long. Basically, Irving is like the rock star of the book world. Once in and seated, the reading started ten of fifteen minutes long and the audience was told that the format was going to be a little different from normal- Mr. Irving would not be doing a signing, he would not do an audience Q & A, and there would be no interviewer. Apparently when you're John Irving you can do whatever the hell you want (cough, antisocial, cough). In all fairness, though, I'm guessing he might have a little arthritis- he wrestled in his youth, writes his novels by hand (?!?!), and isn't exactly a spring chicken. Attendees were invited to submit questions via email ahead of time, which Irving's assistant and publisher went through. A little strange, but, then again writers aren't exactly normal. 

Irving started off the night by answering some questions regarding his sexuality- many people are wondering if he's a closeted bisexual, since the narrator for In One Person is, as have there been homosexual undertones to some of his other novels. He said that he is not, and did say that he finds it easier to write from the perspective of someone who is gay or bi, compared to someone who has little sex or is celibate, like a few other of his characters (translation: John Irving is a horny bastard). When I read the book I questioned the authenticity of his perspective as a straight man, and, to be honest, still slightly do. But, on the other hand, as someone who has no problem with homosexuality, I guess love is love and sex is sex, no matter who it's between. Would I feel comfortable and legit writing from a lesbian's point of view? Probably not, but he's a professional and I am so obviously not.

He then read a fairly long passage from his novel that centered around the main character have anal sex. Yup, the old man read the butt lovin' scene. He obviously relished saying the words "vagina" and "anal," which the audience found quite amusing. Maybe if he was my grandpa I'd have been disturbed, but there's something about an old man talking about adventurous sex that's pretty damn funny. It wasn't terribly graphic, but still...

Irving finished up with a few more questions, mostly regarding his portrayal of mothers throughout his novels, possible movie projects (he says he hates screenwriting but is considering turning this latest novel into a script, just as he did for his Oscar-winning treatment for Cider House Rules), and his writing process.

And then I downloaded the new-to-me Walk the Moon album and drove allllll the way home back to the land of "we aint have no readings."

As a quick side note, I added a new tab to the toolbar for readings I've attended. When I have more time I'll add the links that have posts, but we'll see when that happens, since life is about to get awesomely hectic starting tomorrow. It was time to take down the running tab- running and I are having some issues right now (I feel the urge to start training again, but I'm not quite sure if it's best for me current fitness goals). 


  1. I've always found Irving to be quirky but usually enjoyable. Several books of his I was never able to finish reading. Son of the Circus and Cider House Rules. Loved Garp and loved Owen Meany but only after I stopped reading it at one point and then about a year later started at the beginning again and it grabbed me. There was another I didn't finish too, but I can't remember the name.

  2. It would have disappointed me to not to have a chance for autographs or Q&A, but it still was a cool opportunity! When you live in a cool place like California, you get a chance to encounter true authors like him!