Unnerving Irving

By Kathryn Comment

Scholastic journals remind us of the most popular theorietical approaches available when interpreting literature. Likewise, newspaper profiles remind us of the two most popular approaches when discussing literature’s authors — the Sally Jessy Raphael, and the Montel Williams.

Until I Find You (Random House, July) is [John Irving’s] Big Book, an attempt to resolve the great themes of his life and work. Mr. Irving’s … novels are full of male characters with strong mothers and absent fathers. Born John Wallace Blunt Jr., Mr. Irving never knew his father and took his stepfather’s name.

The new novel also has a deeper personal echo. It deals fictionally with a secret that Mr. Irving has carried around for years: in 1953, when he was 11, an older woman sexually abused him. [cont’d >]