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The Imaginary Girlfriend: A Memoir [Hardcover]

John Irving
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 Mar 1996
This work combines a portrait of the world of wrestling with a memoir that portrays a father's dedication to his children. It is a tribute to the writers and wrestlers who played a mentor role in Irving's development as a novelist, a wrestler and a wrestling coach.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (14 Mar 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747524823
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747524823
  • Product Dimensions: 18.2 x 11.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 950,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Irving published his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, in 1968. He has been nominated for a National Book Award three times - winning once, in 1980, for the novel The World According to Garp. In 1992, Mr. Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 2000, he won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules - a film with seven Academy Award nominations. In 2001, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Last Night in Twisted River is John Irving's twelfth novel.

(Photo credit: Everett Irving)

Product Description

Review

"Interesting and surprising revelations" (Michael Moran Literary Review)

"His "inexpressible personal opinions" as a critic are wonderful, slaying many a sacred cow" (Tobias Jones Spectator)

"The patent sincerity of his passion gives an appealing authenticity to this memoir... compelling and alive" (Andrew Rosenheim The Times Literary Supplement)

"Irving can transform sex and violence mythology with the best of 'em" (Adrianne Blue Independent on Sunday)

"Concise, original and enjoyable" (The Times) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A great author's autobiography. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good if you're an Irving fan 2 Jan 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Being a huge John Irving fan I'd been looking forward to reading his memoirs for a long time. Although the book is clearly and humourously written, I found it slightly disappointing. This is because it quickly becomes apparent that Irving is a HUGE wrestling fan. Wrestling has been his obsession throughout his life and consequently features prominently in the book. If you aren't interested in wrestling, you may want to give the book a miss.
The reader is taken through Irving's wrestling and academic/writing career meticulously, but personal details to do with his family are virtually omitted (there are fleeting references to his parents and wives), although he does describe his sons' wrestling accolades with great pride and affection.
I enjoyed the book because Irving's gift for describing characters shines through, as we are introduced to friends and colleagues he has met during his lifetime. I finished the book feeling as if I had known some of them personally.
If you admire Irving's work, you will probably like this book; otherwise I would suggest that you stick to reading his fiction (all of which is fantastic).
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For die-hard John Irving fans only. 4 April 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Not a complete auto-biography but selected recollections from the authors life. There is a wealth of information about the author's (and his son's) wrestling career(s) which turns out not to be as quirky and fabulous as any of his novels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Interesting book(let) about John Irving himself as a person. But no knock-out like all of his other books. My advise: don't start to read Irving with this one. But never stop reading the many other monuments of his writing! Hans Horwitz, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
77 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Story, but buy Trying to Save Piggy Sneed 5 Jan 2003
By Z. Blume - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Imaginary Girlfriend is a terrific memoir. Irving, while taking a break from writing novels, decided to pen a short autobiography, but he brought his usual sense of humor, ability to develop characters, and readable style to the project. The story does an excellent job of explaining the life events and people who have shaped his character and writing, which I think is very useful when trying to understand and appreciate his other books. I think this story itself is some of Irving's best writing and is certainly worth the short time it takes to read. I would recommend, however, instead of paying for the memoir alone, you purchase Trying to Save Piggy Sneed which includes this memoir as well as several short stories. You will not be disappointed if you are an Irving fan or just enjoy good, entertaining writing.
44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars devistating standing cradle 27 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a must for anyone who has ever wrestled or followed the sport. Irving does a fine job of showing how the physical exertion and emotion he put into wrestling mirrored the creative process of his writing. He is able to capture the sweat, the smells and the camaraderie of the wrestling room while showing that he and his pals were not just a bunch of one dimensional oafs. He concentrates on the creativity and diverse personalities of the wrestlers on his team. Those of you who are former wrestlers who are coaching or who are totally retired from the mat will appreciate Irving's transition from college student, to writer, to family man without ever really losing contact with the wrestling world. Stories about referees and out-of-control sports parents are all too real, but will make you chuckle anyway. A quick read.Iriving shows how all of those old coaching cliches really do apply to life.
47 of 58 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy this book 25 Jun 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Buy "Trying to Save Piggy Sneed" instead, since it includes this work and several other pieces. It's just my stupid opinion, but I think the publisher deserves a big dope slap for republishing this seperately.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not one of Irving's best 25 Jun 2003
By balibeachboy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I am a big John Irving fan and have read almost all of his novels. This book was a big disappointment for me, though. Rather than deeply delve into the events and people who shaped his writing, Irving provides perfunctory descriptions of the major events in his life as a writer and wrestler. He devotes much more attention to the scores of every wrestling match he ever took part in than to details regarding the process of crafting his novels. For wrestling fans, this book might be just what you are looking for; for others, I would skip it and re-read Garp.
27 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book 12 July 2000
By T. Chan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is something I'd recommend to anyone. John Irving is THE great American writer of our generation, and his memoirs shed a lot of light on his other writing.
If there's a reason not to buy this book, it's because it's included in the "Prayer for Owen Meany" collection and everything in that book is worth reading too, so you might as well get the whole thing.
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