At Home With John Irving

Earlier this year, at the age of 70, John Irving published his 13th novel, In One Person. The title is from Shakespeare’s Richard II: “Thus play I in one person many people, and none contented.” “In One Person,” writes Charles Baxter in The New York Review of Books, “combines several genres. It is a novel about a bisexual man’s coming out grafted onto a coming-of-age story, grafted onto a portrait-of-the-artist, grafted onto a theater novel. The book is very entertaining and relies on verbal showmanship even when the events narrated are grim, a tonal incongruity characteristic of this author. The book’s theme, it’s fixed idea, is that actors and writers and bisexuals harbor many persons within one person.”

In this five-minute film from Time magazine we get just a glimpse of the person, or people, called John Irving. It’s an interesting glimpse. Director Shaul Schwarz and his crew filmed the writer at his sprawling house in East Dorset, Vermont. The sheer size of the place gives some sense of the popularity of Irving’s novels, which include The World According to Garp, The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany. The house has a wrestling gym where Irving works out and an office where he writes the old-fashioned way–with pen and paper–by windows looking out onto the forested hills of southern Vermont. “I can’t imagine being alive and not writing, not creating, not being the architect of a story,” says Irving near the end of the film. “I do suffer, I suppose, from the delusion that I will be able to write something until I die. That’s my intention, my hope.”

Related Content: 

John Irving: The Road Ahead for Aspiring Novelists

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