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on January 5, 2003
The Imaginary Girlfriend is a terrific memoir. Irving, while taking a break from writing novels, decided to pen a short autobiography, but he brought his usual sense of humor, ability to develop characters, and readable style to the project. The story does an excellent job of explaining the life events and people who have shaped his character and writing, which I think is very useful when trying to understand and appreciate his other books. I think this story itself is some of Irving's best writing and is certainly worth the short time it takes to read. I would recommend, however, instead of paying for the memoir alone, you purchase Trying to Save Piggy Sneed which includes this memoir as well as several short stories. You will not be disappointed if you are an Irving fan or just enjoy good, entertaining writing.
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on November 26, 1999
This book is a must for anyone who has ever wrestled or followed the sport. Irving does a fine job of showing how the physical exertion and emotion he put into wrestling mirrored the creative process of his writing. He is able to capture the sweat, the smells and the camaraderie of the wrestling room while showing that he and his pals were not just a bunch of one dimensional oafs. He concentrates on the creativity and diverse personalities of the wrestlers on his team. Those of you who are former wrestlers who are coaching or who are totally retired from the mat will appreciate Irving's transition from college student, to writer, to family man without ever really losing contact with the wrestling world. Stories about referees and out-of-control sports parents are all too real, but will make you chuckle anyway. A quick read.Iriving shows how all of those old coaching cliches really do apply to life.
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on June 25, 2003
Buy "Trying to Save Piggy Sneed" instead, since it includes this work and several other pieces. It's just my stupid opinion, but I think the publisher deserves a big dope slap for republishing this seperately.
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on June 25, 2003
I am a big John Irving fan and have read almost all of his novels. This book was a big disappointment for me, though. Rather than deeply delve into the events and people who shaped his writing, Irving provides perfunctory descriptions of the major events in his life as a writer and wrestler. He devotes much more attention to the scores of every wrestling match he ever took part in than to details regarding the process of crafting his novels. For wrestling fans, this book might be just what you are looking for; for others, I would skip it and re-read Garp.
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on May 21, 2014
I give this a three star since John Irving is a fantastic story teller. But I would say about 85% of the book is excruciatingly detailed comments on his wrestling career, and those of his Sons. If you love wrestling, you'd definitely give it a 5. I, however, had a rough time taking in all the scoring and terminology. It wasn't about his life very much at all, unless his whole life was wrestling. I am glad I purchased it since it will now complete my John Irving collection, but I wouldn't advise it for someone who is less than a John Iving fanatic such as me.
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on June 6, 2014
Whether you're a fan of writing or wrestling, or just want to read a great storyteller giving insights into his life, "Imaginary Girlfriend" is a delightful (and all too brief) book from John Irving.
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on November 7, 2015
The sections on writing interested me more than those on wrestling, but Irving makes the connections clear. The last chapter (?) on teaching writing really resonates, I think. Now I'm ready to start his latest novel.
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on October 7, 2015
This time a memoir. As always John Irving writes a wonderful novel! He takes you through his journey to becoming an award winning author. The influence of his love for wrestling plays a big part on his drive to write and write. Once he realizes that his passion is to write but passion alone cannot support a family he works many jobs until finally writing becomes his full-time job...his career. I loved this book and finding so much more about him. He gives writers great advice about how to step out of "first person" writing and using experiences and making them have their own life.
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on October 7, 2015
John Irving is one of my favorite writers. His ability to engage you in his fiction is second only to his ability to engage you in his non fiction. This is a wonderful book and a good way to get to know Mr. Irving.
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on December 25, 2015
While never a devoted wrestling fan but a devoted reader of John Irving and a former English and creative writing teacher, I learned a lot about writing and wrestling. I enjoyed the humor and the influence of coaches, students, family and friends. I especially appreciate the honesty of Mr. Irving as it pertains to talent and hard work.

and creative writing
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