Reviews

The Imaginary Girlfriend

Patty Osborne

John Irving's The Imaginary Girlfriend (Knopf) is an attractive little hardcover book that is a pleasure to look at and to hold. But to read it is another matter. This memoir of Irving’s life as a writer and a wrestler is little more than a list of dates, names and wrestling takedowns. Irving may be a good storyteller, but not when it comes to recounting real life. The writing here is loose, undisciplined, and sometimes just bad. Even Irving's humorous anecdotes fall flat. There is no buildup and the punchlines are obscured by unimportant details or rambling, unwieldy sentences. Irving stays safely on the surface of events—we never feel the sweat and exertion of either wrestling or writing. In fact, the whole tone of the book is flat—nothing is more important or exciting than anything else, nothing is funnier or sadder than anything else. And nothing is very interesting.

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