Acclaimed writer discusses new novel at Fleming Museum

Spectators crammed into the Robert Hull Fleming Museum as John Irving read from his new and upcoming novel “In One Person” on Thursday, Oct. 14. Although the lecture had minimal publicity, the renowned author still managed to draw in a large crowd. The audience broke out into applause as Peter Shumlin, Vermont state senator, Democratic nominee for governor and long-time friend of Irving’s, made a lively introduction.  “John Irving, for me, is not only the best author in America, but he also represents Vermonters,” Shumlin said.  Some of Irving’s most acclaimed novels include “The World According to Garp,” “The Cider House Rules, ” for which the film adaptation won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and “A Prayer for Owen Meany.” Irving’s title of his latest work comes from William Shakespeare’s “King Richard II.”  Irving said that “In One Person” had been in his mind for seven or eight years. The main character, William, goes through a series of changes throughout the novel.  “The bisexual boy falls in love with an older women, who is a transsexual,” Irving said.  Irving said he is both humorous and animated when it come to his writings and in real life. “In One Person” certainly has a comedic element to it. “There’s a downside to this,” Irving said. “If you can be funny you will be, even in the most inappropriate moments.”  Irving said that he generally writes in the third person, because it’s easier to account for what’s going on in the story. “In One Person,” however, is a first person narrative.  Irving said that there is something quite specific about the way he works. He always writes his last sentence first and works his way back through the plot to where the story should start. “Not even the comma has changed in the last paragraph,” Irving said. “It’s as if the story has already happened.” Irving has come a long way since the beginning of his career as a writer. Peter Shumlin said that he knew Irving when he was a “starving writer” and “wasn’t known outside of Vermont.” Irving said that he feels lucky to be in his profession. “I love what I do, and the luxury of being able to do it every day never gets old,” Irving said. It’s not every day that a widely acclaimed author graces the University of Vermont with witty and animated anecdotes.  “It was inspiring to see John Irving read from his emerging novel, especially having read ‘A Prayer for Owen Meany,’ it made his work that much more real for me,” first year Hayley Contois said.