This is my first blog post. I am scared. I can imagine readers worldwide, scanning their eyes over the content, rolling their eyes and moving on to something far more interesting and well-written.
I think my life often sits on the borderline between interesting and mundane; I work as a history teacher by day, and by night help my lovely Albanian fiancée in his family run pub. Sleep, for me, is a luxury, one I only really enjoy during school holidays (and no, before anyone begins to even think it, teachers do not get far too much holiday; sadly the sheer amount of paperwork and marking takes over a vast majority of that time too)
I have always wanted to write a blog. My best friend has her own blog, reviewing all the millions of books she has read (she is a reading demon http://www.overflowinglibrary.com/). Our headteacher constantly searches the internet for interesting blogs on how to improve ourselves as teachers (an ongoing process, I assure you!). My sisters old university flat mate writes amazing pieces of creative writing based around her thoughts and experiences (http://www.juststuffnofluff.blogspot.co.uk/). But what can I blog about? It was a quote from ‘How I Met Your Mother’ that really inspired me to get blogging, and that also happens to be the name of my blog. My favourite character, Barney, is often heard exclaiming ‘This is SO going on my blog…!’ Essentially, I have decided to blog about everything and anything that I deem interesting, enraging or worthy of note happening in my life, regardless of theme.
My first blog post is on one of my favourite writers, John Irving, and one of the latest of his novels that I have read. I am hoping it may also persuade Kirsty to actually read a John Irving, as she predominantly reads YA fiction. Unlike Kirsty, who can read a whole book in a matter fo hours, I take a month or two to read a book, sometimes longer if time is short, so to find one worthy of note is always a special time, especially when it is by a favourite author.
My love of John Irving began when I was about 16. My rather attractive English Literature teacher, known to us as JT due to his likeness to Justin Timberlake, recommended Irving to me, based mainly on my random personality, and my love of unusual novels. Looking back, some of the content may have been beyond my maturity level, but nonetheless I fell in love with Irving’s style and unpredictability, and will forever remember JT purely because of this (shamefully, I can’t actually remember his real name)
The first book I read by Irving is to be reviewed at a later date, today I am focussing on a relatively new novel, published in 2001, ‘The Fourth Hand’.
‘Imagine a young man on his way to a less-than-thirty-second event- the loss of his left-hand, long before he reached middle age.’ The tale centres around this young man, Patrick Wallingford, and his personal journey following the loss of his hand. The lion attack itself is momentary, almost comical, but sets that stage for Wallingford’s transformative path.
As with all Irving novels, it seems random and pointless, but draws in other characters, some from across the American continent, all unique and equally important to the plot. We have Dr Zajak from Boston, the hand surgeon eagerly awaiting to perform the first successful hand transplant, and a married woman in Wisconsin willing to donate her husband’s hand to Patrick, the only flaw in this plan being her husband is still alive at the time of Patrick’s accident.
My favourite character is actually the hand surgeons dog, Medea, who seems to represent the whole point of the book- however rubbish or flawed a person you may be, you can change, although you may not realise how horrible or flawed you are, or that a change is necessary or even happening. Medea’s main flaw, in case you were wondering, being that she eats her own excrement. But she can’t help it, she’s a dog.
I found the novel really engrossing, and unpredictable, hence the quote from it which I have used as my blog title; ‘Destiny is not imagineable, except in dreams or to those who are in love’. The truthfulness in it makes this quote beautiful to me. Go back five years, and I would never have known I’d be a history teacher, engaged, living a relatively grown-up life. The same goes for the characters in this novel, their effect on one another is unpredictable and long-lasting.
It is, as the Washington Post asserts, ‘Vintage Irving’. It will keep you guessing, take you all over the world and leave you pondering long after the final page. A definite must-read.