Not Just a Common English Name?

A post I wrote for The Booksellers New Zealand Blog in 2011

When I was 16 I read The World According to Garp for English class. That was the beginning, the beginning of the somewhat inexplicable influence of authors named John on my life. In the ensuing three years I read every John Irving novel I could get my hands on. I noticed trends in his writing, symbols and recurring themes; but mostly I just revelled in his stories, which were at times heart-rending, and often full of entrancing bizarreness.

In 2008 I encountered another essential authorial John when I picked up a Popular Penguin edition of Rabbit, Run. Since then I’ve delved further into the Rabbit series, Memories of the Ford Administration, Marry Me, and a shelf-full of others. Updike was the first author to convince me that, if well written enough, I could truly, viscerally, love a character who is devoid of any positive personality traits. This…

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