John Irving: A Critical Companion

John Irving: A Critical Companion

John Irving: A Critical Companion

John Irving: A Critical Companion

Synopsis

One of America's most noted contemporary novelists, John Irving has created a body of fiction of extraordinary range, moving with ease from romance to fairytale to thriller. Although his fiction follows in the tradition of the great 19th-century world novelists, he is a quintessential American writer--his novels are laced with broad humor, farce, and absurd situations. He does not hesitate to tackle the troubling issues that have faced our nation in the past few decades, such as war, racism, sexism, abortion, violence, and AIDS. This study offers a clear, accessible reading of Irving's fiction. It analyzes in turn all of his novels from Setting Free the Bears (1968) to his newest novel A Widow for One Year (1998). It also provides the reader with a complete bibliography of Irving's fiction, as well as selected reviews and criticism.

Excerpt

The authors who appear in the series Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers are all best-selling writers. They do not simply have one successful novel, but a string of them. Fans, critics, and specialist readers eagerly anticipate their next book. For some, high cash advances and breakthrough sales figures are automatic; movie deals often follow. Some writers become household names, recognized by almost everyone.

But, their novels are read one by one. Each reader chooses to start and, more importantly, to finish a book because of what she or he finds there. the real test of a novel is in the satisfaction its readers experience. This series acknowledges the extraordinary involvement of readers and writers in creating a best-seller.

The authors included in this series were chosen by an Advisory Board composed of high school English teachers and high school and public librarians. They ranked a list of best-selling writers according to their popularity among different groups of readers. For the first series, writers in the top-ranked group who had received no book-length, academic, literary analysis (or none in at least the past ten years) were chosen. Because of this selection method, Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers meets a need that is being addressed nowhere else. the success of these volumes as reported by reviewers, librarians, and teachers led to an expansion of the series mandate to include some writ-

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