Ending a Literary Feud
John Irving is the author of twelve books, including “The World According to Garp,” “A Prayer For Owen Meany,” and most recently, “Last Night on Twisted River.” Over his career he has won a National Book Award, an Academy Award for his adaptation of “The Cider House Rules,” and many other honors, and has been translated into over thirty languages. A former competitive wrestler, he splits his time between Vermont and Montreal.
Question: Do you feel that literary feuds, such as yours with Tom Wolfe, help writing?
John Irving: I don't know, I think that they are all generated by a kind of compiled misunderstanding. I give Wolfe the benefit of the doubt that he did not write that sort of white paper manifesto about how the rest of us should be writing the great American novel, the piece he published in Harper’s, I believe, after “Bonfire of the Vanities” was first published. I don't imagine when he wrote that, that he was aware of how many writers who've been writing fiction longer and writing it better than he does, might have been offended by that prescriptive piece. Maybe he didn't know, maybe he was just, you know, speaking from the heart, and he didn't know it was, it would be irritating.
But I know that was the source of what provoked me at him and I know it was also the source of what provoked Updike, with him, too. I remember a letter from John saying that he never would've taken Wolfe so much to task in that New Yorker piece if it hadn't of been for that earlier manifesto.
But, you know, I think it's an overrated feud. He and I ran into each other, he was with his wife, I was with one of my children, we ran into each other on Washington Mall a few years ago, after all this squabbling had been much published, over-publicized in my opinion, in the media, and I didn't think it was an especially awkward or hostile meeting. I mean, we got through it without spitting and scuffling and kicking dirt on each other's shoes and, you know, they said nice things to my son and I believe that we were both perfectly cordial to one another. So not much of a feud in my opinion.
There are certainly people that you, in the media, don't know about that if I ran into them, more sparks would fly.
Recorded on: October 30, 2009
The tension between John Irving, John Updike and Tom Wolfe was overplayed and misguided, says the novelist. The real sparks would fly, he says, if he ran into a few fellows well outside of the media’s purview.
The actor's greatest heroes exhibited humility in their actions, a view he tries to emulate.
- Ethan Hawke is inspired by others' excellence and ability to see the context of the larger community, those who value their work but don't take it too seriously.
- One of his heroes, River Phoenix, exhibited this kind of humility by taking on roles that were meaningful to him but were seen as controversial.
- "Phil Hoffman used to say this all the time, that it's the most important thing in the world and it doesn't matter, and you have to hold that coin together and flip it around. It's all true all the time," he says.
Indeh: A Story of the Apache Wars
When you struggle with anxiety or depression, sex may be the last thing on your mind. But understanding the physiological and mental benefits of a healthy sex life can help it become a tool for well-being.
- The physiological responses our bodies have to sex can minimize the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Deficiencies in nitric oxide are associated with irritability, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and less energy. Having sex increases your body's nitric oxide levels.
- Sex also increases epinephrine, oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin, all of which are linked to mood, behavior, and well-being.
The most popular books of the past 125 years, and where to get them.
- New York Public library is celebrating its 125th birthday in 2020. With over 90 locations across New York City's boroughs, it is the nation's largest public library system.
- Based on circulation data, popularity, trends, and other criteria dating back to 1895, these books are considered the library's most checked-out titles of all time.
- "The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats was checked out 485,583 times and takes the top spot, but one librarian's hatred of another book may have robbed it of the crown.