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Trying To Save Piggy Sneed [Paperback]

John Irving
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 27 1994
Here is a treat for John Irving addicts and a perfect introduction to his work for the uninitiated. To open this spirited collection, Irving explains how he became a writer. There follow six scintillating stories written over the last twenty years ending with a homage to Charles Dickens. This irresistible collection cannot fail to delight and charm.

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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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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Irving as his best. Feb. 8 2002
Format:Paperback
John Irving was bedriden when he wrote this book, and it shows it. He wasnt feeling well enough for writing a novel, but he was kind of bored so he wrote this exercise of a memoir.
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
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4.0 out of 5 stars An enlightening look at the life of the author Sept. 12 2001
Format:Paperback
This compilation of short stories gives an insightful look into the life of John Irving. Any reader who is familiar with Irving's work will find that Trying To Save Piggy Sneed relates to all of his earlier work. The writing style is consistently unique in each of the pieces found in Piggy Sneed. Irving's technique and insight are powerful tools which place the reader in the midst of each new conflict. Would be writers will find this autobiographical sketch interesting informative. Irving states just what it is that makes a good writer. He also honors those authors whom he thinks have made an impact on the literary community.
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Only for Irving fans Nov. 3 2000
Format:Paperback
If you love Irving, you will want to read this eclectic collection of essays, bits of biography and short stories. If you don't know and love Irving, you will wonder what it's all about. Personally, I am a huge fan; I've read all of his novels and so this was a welcome insight into the life of one of America's treasures. The first chapter on how he became a story teller is vintage John. On another note, he definitely loves wrestling, and you are faced to read tedious round by round accounts of important matches in his life, but that's okay, because now I know where he got a lot of the foundations for Garp.
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Answers many questions Aug. 11 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
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 schools, and Vienna. It still leaves me yearning to know why he so often writes about bears, incest, and infidelity. I'm sure those would be stories worth reading!
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4.0 out of 5 stars The measure of a good writer April 12 2000
Format:Paperback
After reading the autobiographical section of this book, i wanted to learn more about wrestling. WRESTLING! Why would i want that? Well, John Irving did a supert job piquing my curiousity. It takes some skill to make the reader interested in something that they had not ever considered.
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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A little of this, a bit of that Aug. 1 1999
Format:Paperback
I've read all of John Irving's novels, but somehow let this book get by. Having just finished it (soon after reading A Widow For One Year), I have mixed feelings. I would love to read Irving's memoirs, but I'm more interested in his family life than all that wrestling business. One can't help imagine that there is a lot of John Irving in T.S. Garp and Johnny Wheelwright and John Berry, but Irving does not reveal this. The short stories and his comments on them are well worth it, though. When he calls one story amateurish to the point of embarrassment, I can't help but think "I only wish I could write one story as well as Irving's worst." For fans of the Irving mystique it's a must read, but for others I'd say go straight to The Pension Grillparzer.
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