As soon as I returned from Manchester last week, I went to the Zurich Schauspielhaus for an author reading by John Irving from his book Until I find you. My friend Alice had kindly invited me and had bought the tickets, and had read the book! (unlike me...). The reading was partly in German and then Irvine summarised the book and read a later passage in English. The second part of the evening was a moderated interview with him. Unfortunately though the moderator's English wasn't particularly fluent or confident and the interview could have flowed a lot better. Nevertheless, John Irving made lots of interesting points about the book and his writing process. The book took 8 years to write and he said it was one of the most autobiographical pieces he had written. He said that he was suprised that it hadn't taken longer, he had reckoned with 11 years! I guess writing a novel like that (1000 pages) is writing on a completely different scale. The first draft was easy he said, but it just got harder as he edited! Writing was intimate and personal and what he left out said as much about him, as the truth that he put into the book. One of the central figures is a tatoo artist, and Irving explained that he had had several tatoos done whilst writing the book. The story actually ends in Zurich, where the protagonist meets his father.
Irving had a lovely warm reading style and I now feel inspired to read the book! Al and I then moved to the bar next door and sat and talked for ages over a glass of wine. We talked about writing and how it helped, particularly when you're an expat and a bit isolated. I think we both dreamed of writing our own nove., it was that inspiring an evening! I do want to catch more culture here in Zurich though, particularly at the Schauspielhaus! In fact, there's the German premiere of Am Strand der Weiten Welt (Simon Stephens) which I first saw last year at the Manchester Royal Exchange in the round. It was fab in English, I'd love to see it in German. Must get tickets :-)