Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ruth, John and Julii


Until I Find You
Originally uploaded by hampshiregirl
I haven't had a favorite author since I was about nine years old. Back then, it was a writer named Ruth Chew.

Chew wrote books about kids and modern day witches and most of them were set in Brooklyn. I loved Ruth Chew and spent most of my free time reading and re-reading her books. When I wasn't reading her books, I was writing her letters and waiting for her replies and she did reply - with letters written on an old school type writer that concluded with an original hand drawn witch doodled at the bottom.

I loved her books so much that I wrote her often... that is, until she wrote back one last time saying that while she enjoyed my letters, they were keeping her so busy that she didn't have time to write back to any other girls or boys. Heartbroken, I vowed to never again declare a favorite author.

And for a quarter of a century, I didn't.

That changed two days ago when I finished The World According to Garp and made a decision to officially name John Irving my favorite writer. Years ago, while on a trip salmon fishing in upstate New York, I read his bestseller A Widow for One Year and fell in love with it. A decade later, I revisited Irving after Mr. Pellicane told me about one of Irving's bizarre novels, The Hotel New Hampshire. I took his advice and read it that summer and agreed it was bizarre and a bit twisted but interesting and attention grabbing nonetheless.

The Hotel New Hampshire lead me to check out his semi-autobiographical novel Until I find You and WOW! I absolutely fell in love with that book - it had everything in it that I find fascinating: Scotland, tattooing, the Baltic Sea, Canada, Hollywood, novelists, the works! It's the kind of book you wish you'd never read, just so you could read it all over again for the first time.

After Until I Find You, I vowed to read all of his books. I picked up The Fourth Hand at a charity shop in London this past summer but I openly admit it didn't hook me until last week. I picked up the audio book of The World According to Garp at the EBPL a month ago and for a good three weeks, it made my two hour a day commute not only bearable, but highly enjoyable - to the point where I found myself listening in my car in front of my apartment with the engine idling. That's when I decided to officially name John Irving my favorite author and that the next day, I would get one of his most popular novels out of the library that I've been meaning to read.

But I didn't make it to the library the next day because instead, when I walked into my classroom that morning, I found a package of books on my desk. On the top of the pile was Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany and a note from Julii Ritter saying it was her favorite book (I think it's Ms. Nelson's, too!). I was so excited, as it confirmed my decision to declare Irving my favorite author - I mean, if such a smart, voracious reader like Julii loves Irving, how can I be wrong?

Thanks, Julii and thank you John Irving!