Trying To Save Piggy Sneed Paperback – Mar 27 1994
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From Publishers Weekly
Irving proves himself, once again, a garrulous and engaging raconteur in this collection of fiction and nonfiction divided into three sections: Memoirs, Fiction and Homage. In the last, while admiring the work of Gunter Grass, he notes that "Grass is never so insecure as to be polite." Given Irving's fascination with the malfunctioning or assaulted human body, one can't help feeling that he's defending his own work?both acne (in the story, "Brennbar's Rant") and genital warts (the O. Henry Prize-winning "Interior Space") figure in these pages. Sometimes, however, Irving's grotesquerie lacks the compassion with which his favorite writer, Dickens, moderated his caricatures. In the title essay (in which Irving relates his discovery of the powers of fiction-making), Piggy Sneed, the retarded garbage collector and pig farmer whose disappearance stimulates Irving's imagination, is harshly ridiculed: Sneed "smelled worse than any man I ever smelled?with the possible exception of a dead man I caught the scent of, once, in Istanbul." There are other, more engaging pieces: an amusing account of a dinner at the Reagan White House; an early, sentimental story, "Weary Kingdom," about a lonely woman; and, best of all, "The Imaginary Girlfriend," a rambling autobiographical sketch with a heavy emphasis on the mentors and rivals who shaped Irving's defining obsessions?wrestling and writing. Each of the 12 sections is followed by "Author's Notes"; "The Imaginary Girlfriend" is supplemented with personal photographs (not seen by PW). 150,000 first printing; BOMC selection; author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
When the going gets tough, the tough...go through their desk drawers. John Irving has not been on top of his game since The Cider House Rules (LJ 6/1/85) and in an effort to showcase the old talent, Irving offers a collection of past writings. Not strictly a work of fiction, Sneed includes memoirs, short stories, and "Homages"-tributes to Charles Dickens and Gunter Grass. Written in 1967 when Irving was a student at the Iowa Writer's Workshop, "Weary Kingdom," about a middle-aged dorm mother at a Boston college, reveals a maturing writer, growing comfortable portraying the quirky aspects of his subjects that characterize his work. "The Imaginary Girlfriend," the most recent of the essays (to be illustrated with Irving's photos-not seen), outlines the parallel lines of his wrestling career and reading history. In spite of its unevenness, Sneed is recommended for fiction and literature collections based on Irving's reputation.
Adam Mazmanian, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
My favorite piece in this collection was "Interior Space" which dealt with one girl's vengeance on a boy who has caused her a major embarrassment. The creativity used in describing in detail the great lengths that the young Margaret has gone to in order to clear her name are extremely entertaining. The bold steps taken by this young girl, as well as the community's support in Maggie's campaign, are awe inspiring.
Irving includes a piece in which he writes from the viewpoint of a woman. This ability to effectively create the feel of a female perspective adds to the story in a tremendous way. Truly, Irving is a talented writer.
The concentration on family and wrestling that shine through in all of Irving's books, is explained in Piggy Sneed. Irving has only the highest regard for his own family, and wrestling has shaped the man he is today. All in all this was a very entertaining as well as informative read. It held my attention every minute.
A few things stood out in this book that elevated John Irving to the status of one classy guy: his love and devotion to his sons, and he never has one bad thing to say about his ex-wife, the mother of his children. In fact he thanks her for her diligence in photographing the boys growing up and some of her shots are found in the center of the book.
Of the multitude of areas in this book, I enjoyed most a short story entitled "Interior Space" inwhich an Austrian man (who else?) laments over the sale of his house and the tree thereon. "You will not the tree down-chop." Irving truly is the master at replicating the juxtaposition of words in the dialogue of native German speakers speaking English.
As fans know, the wait between Irving's novels is unbearably long, and Piggy Snead makes for an entertaining interlude.
The part where John Irving talks about his sons made me admire him so much. He truly loves his children and has such a beautiful way to express it. This autobiography is my favorite part of the book.
The short stories are OK, but they can't match the quality of the autobiography. After reading it, i can understand Garp and Cider House Rules so much better. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know John Irving.
When he talks about his life as a writer, about his childhood, about Piggy Sneed, about his children, its Irving as his best, but the wrestling part its so boring that you have to be masochist no to find yourself skipping pages.
The shorts stories are a sure proof why Irving likes to write novels, he's not a short story teller, its well known that he believes that there its nothing worth saying in 30 pages that wouldnt be better said in 300. But I enjoyed his essays, specially his pasion for Dickens.
Not Irving as his best, but worth a look
Most recent customer reviews
After reading all of Irving's works, reading "The Imaginary Girlfriend" provided insight into why Irving's books continuously focus on wrestling, New England prep... Read morePublished on Aug. 11 2000
I found this book remaindered, popped it open, and was delighted to find details of wrestling at Exeter. I wrestled there in the early '60s, too. Read morePublished on May 5 1999 by Peter Taliaferro email@example.com
While almost all of Irving's books are among my very favorites, it was great to get a closer look at the author through some of the autobiographical material in Piggy Sneed. Read morePublished on Oct. 24 1998
There is no way to describe the writings of John Irving. From Setting Free the Bears to his latest novel , he continues to surprise and delight me. Read morePublished on Aug. 4 1998
I've read and loved all of Irving's books. This one was not the worst of John Irving's books, but I don't think it was the best either. Read morePublished on June 2 1998 by firstname.lastname@example.org