Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Guest Post on John Irving's Work

I have a guest post this week. I am part of the Best & Worst Series at the At Home with Books blog.  Believe it or not, I do read lots of other kinds of books beside mysteries, supernatural novels, and ripping adventures. I chose John Irving because here at Pretty Sinister Books I rarely get to talk about all those other writers that I enjoy reading outside of crime and ghosts and espionage. He was more suited for Alyce's blog.

This guest shot at Alyce's blog was supposed to happen last year, but things got a little crazy around my original assigned slot (it was my birthday weekend bash in New York) and I completely forgot about the post. Gosh darn all that celebrating. So I was pushed up to the first post of 2013.  Fittingly, it appears on my dear departed father's birthday.  He would have been a grand old 91 years old today.  He fostered my reading and -- more importantly -- my writing talents when I was  a lad and I miss him terribly.  That I chose to write about a book that is about a father figure and his protege is utterly perfect for today.

Please stop by Alyce's great blog, read the post, and leave a comment if you like. Click on link here.


  1. Thank you for writing the guest post John! What a lovely tribute to your father!

  2. How do you find time to read all of this mystery and supernatural fiction, and to read mammoth "serious fiction" tomes by the likes of John Irving as well? I've read just a couple of Irving novels, and I've liked them a great deal. What's your take on "A Son of the Circus"? Your write-up at Alyce's blog suggest that you don't think much of it. For my part, I don't recall reading a novel that made me laugh so hard or so often as that one did. (The fact that I read the book not long after traveling to India no doubt sharpened my ability to find the humor--and the pathos, too--in its subject matter.) What's more, I was surprised and very amused to discover along the way that I was also reading a murder mystery, and a cleverly plotted one at that.

    1. I read all of Irving's books when they first came out, Mike. Back in Irving's heyday (1979 - 1995) I wasn't as addicted to crime fiction as I am now. I actually had grown tired of reading the same stuff and I pretty much stopped buying and reading anything that was categorized a mystery. I wanted to widen my reading experience so around 1986 up until around 1998 I focussed on non-genre fiction. Durign that time I read a lot on non-fiction, too. Mysteries and crime fiction made up a very small portion of my reading then.

      My essay only mentions what critics thought of A SON OF THE CIRCUS. Let me add that I liked it a lot. As you mention above it's Irving's only real thriller. That it includes a murder mystery in the plot was a bit of a surprise to me and it only added to my enjoyment. I don't remember it being laugh out loud funny, but I trust your memory. I'm sure that I was laughing aloud in all the same places as you. Irving has said that everything he writes is intended to be comic despite the sorrow and loss the fear and the terror that also live in his books. I tend to remember the drama in his book more than the humor which is a given. In SON OF THE CIRCUS I remember all the talk about orthopedic surgery and the Indian movie business and the revelation of the subculture of the hijra more than I remember the humor.

  3. I don't know what happened to Irving....I could not finish In One was bad!