John Irving speaks to Queens students and faculty
On Thursday, Oct. 20, 2005, author John Irving, famous for works like "Cider House Rules" and "A Prayer for Owen Meany," spoke to a sold-out crowd of approximately 1,000 as part of the Learning Society of Queens 2005-2006 Speaker Series. The lecture was held at 7pm in Dana Auditorium on the campus of Queens.
John Irving is one of the most popular and respected writers in the world. His 10 novels - famous for their complex yet accessible plots and brilliantly portrayed characters - have become American classics.
He has fans of all ages, and many of them were present at Queens Thursday night. The auditorium was filled to capacity about 30 minutes before the program was due to start. Many arrived with their favorite Irving novel in hand and clamored to find a good seat. Those who were not able to purchase a ticket ahead of time waited in the lobby, hopeful that others wouldn't show or that there would be an extra ticket or two to purchase.
The audience was treated to a reading from one of Irving's unpublished works and also had the opportunity to participate in a short Q & A session with the author.
Queens was one of the few universities that Irving agreed to visit this year, and students, faculty and staff took full advantage of the opportunity to participate in an interactive Q & A session at the student program, held earlier in the afternoon.
Aspiring writers and English majors hung on every word Irving spoke as he gave an inside look into his writing process.
"I always know the end of the story before I know the beginning, which is why I feel I have so much in common with autobiographers," said Irving. "I then invest in my characters for as long and for as much as I can stand - then I take things away from them to see how well they hold up."
Irving talked about his battle with dyslexia, and told the audience that because of his feelings of constant failure as a child trying to keep up with the others in school, he can now revise and re-write more than any writer he knows. He learned in school that everything he did was flawed, which has carried into his adult life as a writer.
"Repetition doesn't bore me," Irving said. "The better I love a paragraph, the less I leave it alone."
Irving's first international bestseller, "The World According to Garp," introduced a world of readers to his inventive and expansive style, memorable characters and masterfully woven stories-within-stories.