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His first novel, Setting Free the Bears, was published when he was only 26. But the book fizzled, and Irving's two follow-up books The Water Method Man and The 158-pound Marriage didn't really get much attention either. He took a position as assistant professor of English at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., in 1975.
Irving's fourth novel, The World According to Garp, became an international bestseller and later a film starring Robin Williams and Glenn Close. It was also a finalist for the American Book Award for hardcover fiction in 1979. The film was nominated for several Academy Awards.
Suddenly Mr. Irving was a household name. His next book, The Hotel New Hampshire was set in the backwoods of New Hampshire, and was clearly inspired by Irving's youth. It quickly became a film, starring Jodie Foster and Rob Lowe. In 1985 he published the Cider House Rules, set around the topic of abortion. Irving wrote a screenplay for the book, and in 1999 a film was released starring Tobey Maguire, Charlize Theron and Michael Caine. The movie won several Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, which went to Irving himself.
His next book, A Prayer for Owen Meany, published in 1989, was set in a boarding school in the fictitious town of Gravesend, NH. The book became his best-selling book since Garp and was also turned into a film. The 1998 movie, Simon Birch, was based on Meany. Irving sold the screen rights, on the condition that it not be released under the same name as his book.
Other books include A Son of the Circus and A Widow for One Year, which was made into the film The Door in the Floor, starring Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger, in 2004. His most recent novels include The Fourth Hand, Until I Find You and Last Night in Twisted River. He released a novel based on the Shakespeare play, "Richard II" titled In One Person, on May 8, 2012 and the book, like so many of his others, quickly found itself on the best-seller lists.
Irving is considered one of the best novelists in modern literature. His influences include Charles Dickens, Gunter Grass and Nathaniel Hawthorne. He resides in Toronto and Southern Vermont with his second wife, Janet. Irving is the father of three sons.
Books by John Irving:
The Water-Method Man, 1972
The 158-pound Marriage, 1974
The World According to Garp, 1978
The Hotel New Hampshire, 1981
The Cider House Rules, 1985
A Prayer for Owen Meany, 1989
Trying to Save Peggy Sneed, 1993
A Son of the Circus, 1994
A Widow for One Year, 1998
My Movie Business, 2000
The Fourth Hand, 2001
The Imaginary Girlfriend, 2002
A Sound Like Someone Trying Not to Make a Sound, 2004
Until I Find You, 2005
Last Night In Twisted River, 2009
In One Person, 2012
John Irving interview on the craft of writing:
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