July 6, 2005

Until I Find IMDB

Last week, I was lucky enough to score an advance copy of John Irving's newest book, Until I Find You, which will be hitting stores July 12th. I won't comment on my opinion of it as a whole yet because I'm only halfway done (it clocks in at 848 pages) and I didn't really like A Prayer For Owen Meany until the last 100 pages or so.

I know it's nitpicky, but something in the chapter I finished last night really bothered me. Irving uses the fictional porno series Muffy the Vampire Hooker as a plot device throughout Chapter 20. Besides the cutesy attempt to create a funny porno title (come on, at least go with Muffy the Vampire Layer), my main gripe was that Chapter 20 begins in the fall of 1987 and Chapter 21 starts at some point in 1989. Not only was Buffy the Vampire Slayer popularized by the series in 1997, but the 1992 movie that the series was based on also postdates the Irving timeline.

This anachronism really surprised me because John Irving is usually a very well-researched writer. I guess I'll have to wait for next week's reviews to see if Michiko Kakutani and the other lit crits pick up on it.


  1. Anonymous1:42 PM

    Adam, I finished reading Garp the other day. The first half of the book is damn near perfect, but somewhere around the point where Garp's mother is killed the whole thing falls apart and becomes a real soap opera, which is interestingly the type of fiction that Garp hates. I think Irving has top-notch storytelling abilities, but the stuff he writes about can become a real drag. anyway, he's a gimmicky writer and sometimes very good, but when he's not good he stinks like gorgonzola.

  2. Ah Garp, one of my favorite books. I'll concede that the end does get somewhat far-fetched with the Ellen Jamesians and Jenny & Garps' deaths. I still loved the ending though, the chapter where Garp dies always chokes me up and I really like the whole eulogy feel of the last chapter. It provides a culmination for all the eccentric minor characters that made Garp great.

    It's funny you should say soap opera fiction is what Garp hates. I've noticed that the characters in Irving's books also heap a lot of scorn on "autobiographical" fiction which always irks me because Irving's books have so many autobiographical elements (Exeter & wrestling most notably) in them. I always want to call him a hypocrite, but hold my tounge because of all those warnings from English teachers about not confusing the beliefs of a character with those of the writer.

  3. Anonymous3:12 PM

    your point on autobiographical fiction is well-taken. its so hard to seperate character and author though in garp. I mean, Garp shares so many similarities with Irving. i dunno, this also frustrated me throughout the book and I personally dont like Garps death too much because that is the point where the book turns into a total dung heap, imo. I dont like the "eulogy feel" of the last chapter either because the story was totally over by that point, and I could not have cared less about the fates of the minor characters. The book looses focus with that chapter and the story gets directed away from its focal point.

  4. My friend who actually gave Garp to me said the same thing. He told me he really liked the book but didn't even read the last chapter of the book because he hated it so much.

    I loved all the minor character like Mrs. Ralph, Roberta, and the others, so it was nice that they had an ending too. The kooky minor characters were probably my favorite element of the story. I guess you liked it for different reasons though.

  5. Anonymous11:50 PM

    This comment is very late coming but I am just now reading 'Until I Find You'... I'm also half way through and am reserving my opinion, but I'm annoyed, and surprised, as well by the mistake with 'Buffy' - which is why I found your blog in the first place. That I would be put off enough to go research this on imdb says to me that Irving should have known better. That said, over-all, I adore him. 'New Hampshire' is the best in my opinion.