The Imaginary Girlfriend

The Imaginary Girlfriend Dedicated To The Memory Of Two Wrestling Coaches And Two Writer Friends, The Imaginary Girlfriend Is John Irving S Candid Memoir Of His Twin Careers In Writing And Wrestling The Award Winning Author Of Best Selling Novels From The World According To Garp To In One Person, Irving Began Writing When He Was Fourteen, The Same Age At Which He Began To Wrestle At Exeter He Competed As A Wrestler For Twenty Years, Was Certified As A Referee At Twenty Four, And Coached The Sport Until He Was Forty Seven Irving Coached His Sons Colin And Brendan To New England Championship Titles, A Championship That He Himself Was DeniedIn An Autobiography Filled With The Humor And Compassion One Finds In His Fiction, Irving Explores The Interrelationship Between The Two Disciplines Of Writing And Wrestling, From The Days When He Was A Beginner At Both Until His Fourth Wresting Related Surgery At The Age Of Fifty Three Writing As A Father And Mentor, He Offers A Lucid Portrait Of Those Writers And Wrestlers From Kurt Vonnegut To Ted Seabrooke Who Played A Mentor Role In His Development As A Novelist, Wrestler, And Wrestling Coach He Reveals Lessons He Learned About The Pursuit For Which He Is Best Known, Writing And, As The Denver Post Observed, In Filling His Narrative With Anecdotes That Are Every Bit As Hilarious As The Antics In His Novels, Irving Combines The Lessons Of Both Obsessions Wrestling And Writing Into A Somber Reflection On The Importance Of Living Well

JOHN IRVING was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942 His first novel, Setting Free the Bears, was published in 1968, when he was twenty six He competed as a wrestler for twenty years, and coached wrestling until he was forty seven Mr Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times winning once, in 1980, for his novel The World According to Garp He received an O Henry Award

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  • Paperback
  • 192 pages
  • The Imaginary Girlfriend
  • John Irving
  • English
  • 09 July 2019
  • 9780345458261

10 thoughts on “The Imaginary Girlfriend

  1. says:

    I pulled into Iowa City yesterday afternoon, not planning to be in Iowa at all when I had woken up that morning But while I was mowing my front yard, my son came up to me and said his ride back to college had fallen through there was something about a texted dispute with the girl driving him about how much gas money he would owe her, and he told me that he had told her to stick itI suggested to him that he needed to work on his interpersonal communication skills, especially with women, but secretly I was not displeased because I was hoping to get back to Iowa City, even if it was in such an unexpected manner and for only a quick visit.So what does one do in Iowa City on an unexpected Saturday afternoon Well, after a walk through the pedestrian mall and a gander at the vagrants, I headed over to a used book store, Murphy Brookfield Books on Gilbert Street, and took a look, a rare pleasure for a guy like me who grew up in Iowa City with its used book shops as well as Prairie Lights, one of the better bookstores in the world and who finds himself sadly living now in a part of the world with barely any bookstores at all, and none of them used And I enjoyed myself tremendously, browsing the tall shelves crammed with second hand books I even enjoyed the cat there, and I m not much of a cat person.And when I left, I had a couple of books in hand, one of which was an attractive copy of the British Bloomsbury edition of John Irving s memoir, The Imaginary Girlfriend, which I started reading later that evening and then finished in the middle of the night when the paper thin walls of the crappy Days Inn where I was staying failed to keep out the noise of the Coralville Strip and the voices from my neighbors television.So what you might ask, and I d reply that sometimes a book s rating might be than just in response to the words on the page the rating could be based on an entire sequence of events, a process of sorts involving an infinite number of factors like a surprise visit to Iowa City and a cat in a bookstore and a photo on the book cover of a young John Irving in his wrestling gear, captain of the Exeter Academy wrestling team, staring into the camera without any sense of where his life would be taking him over the next fifty some years.And so the five stars is partly based on all that, and it s based of course on my fondness for John Irving, who you ll see over to the right in my profile, listed as one of my favorite authors, and it s also based on how much of the book takes place in Iowa City just about my most favorite place in the world and how much of it focuses on wrestling and writing And if you don t understand the relationship between Iowa City and wrestling and writing, then you probably don t get the attraction here because, than anything, that is what this book is all about, Irving s lifelong relationship with wrestling and writing and about how those two pursuits have informed his life.When Irving first came to Iowa City as a student in the Writers Workshop, Dave McCuskey was coach of the Hawkeye wrestling team Irving had wrestled for Pitt and not done particularly well there, but unlike most former wrestlers he wasn t content to just let that part of his life slide Irving visited McCuskey s wrestling room on the top floor of the Fieldhouse and wrestled with the team now and then Later, when Irving returned to Iowa City in the mid 70s as an instructor in the Workshop, he wrestled in the room with Kurdelmeier s squad and then with Dan Gable s team In fact, there s a hilarious photo at the end of the book of Dan Gable throwing Irving to his back with a wicked foot sweep And he kept wrestling, and reffing wrestling and coaching wrestling all the way through the first part of his writing career One of the last chapters in the book is called My Last Weigh in, about the final tournament he wrestled after publication of The World According to Garp And he also devotes a great deal of time talking about his two older sons wrestling careers, and all of this adds up to the point where many of the reviewers of the book here on GoodReads have complained about too much wrestling in the pages of this memoir Maybe these folks haven t been reading their Irving very closely, and maybe they just haven t read much about Irving up till now, but beyond Garp and Iowa Bob and all the other wrestling references in his novels, John Irving really loves wrestling Maybe they just didn t know that about him But if you aren t in it for the wrestling, and if you don t understand the way wrestling has helped create the man John Irving is today, then you don t want to read this book, and you certainly wouldn t give it five stars.Speaking of wrestling and Iowa City, in what might be considered a tremendous coincidence a word that Irving uses several times in The Imaginary Girlfriend and what sprawling nineteenth century novel does not make use of the coincidence, and where would Irving the closest writer we have to Charles Dickens today be without ample use of the coincidence in his novels , yesterday afternoon as I was walking in downtown Iowa City I passed Dan Gable right in front of the old Post Office by the little drive in bank where my mother would often do her banking and where as a small boy I was constantly amazed by the little door that would pop out from the side of the wall when you pulled in for your transaction There was Dan Gable and his wife and a group of what I could only imagine were his grandchildren on their way to some event in downtown Iowa City Gable s old now and his hips are bad, but he s still the greatest wrestler in the world, and he s still a tremendous part of the fabric of Iowa City As a lad I spent a lot of time in the Fieldhouse watching his teams wrestle, and I spent a lot of time in his wrestling room watching his practices before my wrestling club would use the room Who knows, but maybe Irving was even there Gable was relentless, and he would often stay after his practices were done, drilling alone in the room on the dummies, working on technique Back then, even though he was long finished as a competitive wrestler on the mat, he could still beat everyone in that room, and watching him was a joy, so seeing him on the street yesterday was its own special kind of joy, as well.So that s all part of why this book gets five stars from me, even though I m one of the few reviewers to give it five stars And there s a lot , but I m sure you re tired of reading this And I could easily understand why someone else without a keen interest in Iowa City or wrestling or the Writers Workshop might give it a one star review After all, the book is a bit of a toss off, written while Irving was recuperating from shoulder surgery It s rambling and discursive, while at the same time maddeningly brief and undeveloped it s less than 150 small pages Irving tosses out names without much background, and the reader is left wanting to know a whole lot about the author than what he gives here No doubt there is a larger, developed autobiography coming one day from Irving, and no doubt there will be biographers both sleazy and academic who will unfold of the mysteries of John Irving s life, but this small book isn t going to give a lot of insight to the fan who is looking for profound revelations into the life of the artist.As for me, I enjoyed it quite a bit Here s something, though on the By the same author page, the list of works ends with A Son of the Circus And this might be another reason why I have taken so well to this small book published in 1996 it seems to me that despite the slapdash quality of the book, it s written at the peak of Irving s career, or at least at that part of his career that matters most to me as a reader After A Son of the Circus, my appreciation of Irving s works begins to dwindlemaybe it s after Owen Meany Even A Widow for a Year, which a lot of Irving fans seem to enjoy, fails to captivate me as well as those first seven or eight books, and what has followed Widow really hasn t impressed me too much I admit I haven t read the most recent book, but I ll get there soon enough Here s what Kurt Vonnegut told John Irving all these many years ago back in Iowa City You may be surprisedI think capitalism is going to treat you very well And it has, oh yes it has Just maybe, though, it s treated him too well, and what s left now in the second half of Irving s career is only a shadow of what he put into those first books But The Imaginary Girlfriend has little to do with that second part of Irving s life This is the Irving of Exeter Academy and the Writers Workshop, of New Hampshire and Iowa City, and it s the Irving who sits on my Favorite Authors list.

  2. says:

    Let me save you a lot of time and offer the sixty second summary of this book I m John Irving I have written lots of excellent books This memoir offers no information on any of them Instead, please enjoy a long list of people I have wrestled with, or against, and the people they have wrestled with, or against, and the names of the coaches who watched us wrestle, and the names of the wrestlers that I have coached I will also provide details like how much all these people weighed, at the time of wrestling and at the time of this writing, and whether they won or lost various matches If at any time the narrative strays towards a humourous or informative anecdote, it s time to end the chapter and change the subject If this sounds fun to you, then by all means, read the book

  3. says:

    One of the beautiful things of reading his collection of short vignettes on his life is that I now truly feel I understand about my favorite writer Any Irving fan should read it.

  4. says:

    Too short a book for an autobiography and even shorter to qualify as a John Irving novel, The Imaginary Girlfriend is easily one of the most endearing books ever written by this marvelous author who has created a formidable niche for himself in the American literary landscape Dedicated to two of his most beloved wrestling coaches and a close friend, this condensed memoir blends the bustling contact sport of wrestling with the personal and imaginative art of Creative Writing A half decent wrestler in his own words on account of an inflexible athletic bent, and a than good as recognised by the world author, John Irving started his academic career in a none too luminous manner Afflicted by Dyslexia which made reading an enormous niggle, Irving overcame this hiccup to blossom into one of the most essential and celebrated authors of our time His discomfort in academics was as prominent as his comfort on a wrestling mat Under the able tutelage of his beloved coach Ted Seabrooke, Irving developed an incorrigible affection towards this sport An affection that lasted for than four decades as he served the sport in the capabilities of a competitor, referee and coach Immersion in the gymnasium halls however did not detract from his literary aspirations as Irving went on to pen some of the most indelible works of fiction including the The World According to Garp , and A Prayer For Owen Meany What makes this condensed work worth reading is the boldness and candour employed by Irving Not shying away from his own disabilities, he lays down with utter simplicity the trajectory which his life took crisscrossing between classrooms and competition venues He also shares with the reader some invaluable lessons drilled into him by mentors of the likes of the inimitable Kurt Vonnegut The book is an assortment of spontaneous wit and sedate wisdom A perilous taxi ride costing 100 and involving a driver petrified of the dark and who also turns out to be a suspected thief is enough to have the reader in splits Poignant and pertinent, this book by Irving is one which unlike the rest of his work will not leave the reader enervated, but instead will generate a feeling of insatiability for being over too soon The Imaginary Girlfriend John Irving at his honest best

  5. says:

    19 192 .

  6. says:

    I expected wise and witty notions on writing, and I got them But 80% of the book consisted of to me rather pointless wrestling stories full of detail but I guess that s what I get for picking up a random autobiography by a famous author I ve never read anything by.

  7. says:

    asto k m sv m student m v hodin ch tv r ho psan prvn str nka pap ru, kter ek , a na ni nap ete prvn v tu va dal knihy, je n dhern a d siv pr v t m, e tento nepopsan list pap ru v bec nezaj m , jestli jste nebo nejste slavn tato pr zdn str nka ne etla dn va e dosavadn d lo nebude v s srovn vat s t mi rom ny, kter se j od v s l bily, ani se v m nebude posm vat za va e p edchoz ne sp chy A to je na za tku na ka d m nov m za tku to nej asn j a z rove nejt V takov chv li se i ten nejzku en j u itel st v poka d znovu kem I kdy obecn nevyhled v m ivotopisy a z pasen ani za m k nerozum m, Imagin rn p telkyn m bavila a zaujala m svou p most a nadhledem M te li r di Irvingova d la a zvl d te rozpl tat jeho slo it p b hy a zamilov v te se do jeho nemo n neoby ejn ch hrdin , zkuste d t t to tl kn ce anci Proto e ona nen jen o tom slibovan m z pasen , kter poznamenalo cel Irving v ivot a zm nku o n m najdete skoro v ka d m jeho d le Je i o jeho osobn m ivot , rodin , t st i ne t st a o l sce k literatu e a psan A neb t t jedn imagin rn p telkyn , kter poslou ila Irvingovi jako milosrdn le pro odchod z Pittsburghu, nikdy bychom se nedo kali jeho geni ln ch d l.

  8. says:

    I was disappointed in this book It was pretty skimpy to begin with and when you remove all the wrestling stuff in which I have zero interest you are left with a couple of pages of Irving s experiences and opinions on writing This was interesting but I actually found far of that in his fictional works particularly in his latest Last Night in Twisted River In fact, although obviously not reliable on a fact by fact basis, I think you also get a better sense of the man by reading his fiction than by reading this memoir.

  9. says:

    I bought this thinking it was an Irving title I d somehow missed and a memoir no less Then it turned out I had read it before, as it was originally featured in Trying to Save Piggy Sneed No matter it was good enough to read again I was amazed that I was so interested in the wrestling parts Also, apart from the very cool title, chapter titles include The Half Pound Piece of Toast, and The Hundred Dollar Taxi Ride.

  10. says:

    At first I thought this was the other John Irving memoir, the later one, where he talks about being bisexual, which is ironic in some ways because that one sounds really interesting, but this one sounds like the memoir of someone whose life was completely uneventful and without emotional content, which can hardly be true of Irving The arc of this book is from privileged upbringing as a New England faculty brat struggling with undiagnosed dyslexia through a mediocre college career through immediately plunging into the politics of academic writing programs and a career as an author of bestsellers He encounters all sorts of interesting writer friends, including Kurt Vonnegut and Robertson Davies, but all he feels like recounting about those friendships is the writing advice they gave him and what he and they think of each other s books, and through it all he overlays everything with the story of his life as told through his obsession with school and collegiate wrestling Reading this book is actually a lot like being cornered at a party by a bore whose only interest in life is wrestling and who mistakenly thought you had an interest in the subject There is so much detail here so much narcissistic detail, one might say along the lines of, for each key match in his life, how much he weighed, what the score was and why, which gym it was in, and even, if he can t remember the names of specific opponents, what school they went to and what their names MIGHT have been was it Carswell or Caswell he speculates breathlessly it must have been one of the two that I am even led to wonder if even the other participants in these matches can possibly be as interested as he is in recalling all of this, let alone his poor readers Some of them, you know, might actually have lives to attend to instead of rehearsing this kind of thing endlessly in their memories I do know that I have a life which I took time away from to read this And remember, this is just collegiate wrestling, sometimes even high school wrestling, not even the big time There is a kind of autistic quality to the level of detail, even Then, at one point, he mentions how the best part of wrestling is how you get to rub and bang your bodies sweatily against men of your own weight class, and it s like Ding okay, it s starting make a bit of sense Clearly, there s something he s not dealing with but desperately wants to talk about Sounds like he and Mrs Irving need to sit down and have a LEETLE bit of a Talk I guess that s all in the second memoir, which has just GOT to be interesting than this one.

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