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My Movie Business: A Memoir Paperback – October 10, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 10, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345441303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345441300
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

John Irving's novels pose tantalizing challenges to filmmakers: at his best, Irving has proven both popular and ambitious, crafting rich, picaresque fiction that juggles Big Themes and antic comedy, braiding his central narratives with intriguing subplots and discursive back stories driven by vivid characters. Irving's accessibility teases the would-be director or producer with the prospect of commercial acceptance even as the scope and intricacy of his work raises crucial risks for the scriptwriter. With two early novels that made it to the screen, The World According to Garp and The Hotel New Hampshire, Irving's box office impact thus far evenly translates to hit and miss.

This slender memoir offers a perceptive, if hardly objective, critique of the inherent differences between novels and screenplays, with the writer sharing his own experiences creating both. Irving focuses principally on his crusade to bring The Cider House Rules to the screen, tracing its gestation through four successive directors; with Irving himself attached as scriptwriter, we see the novelist struggling to reconcile the demands of concision against his paternal instincts toward the original book. Written before the final cut of The Cider House Rules, My Movie Business often verges on self-justification. Irving's respect for the movie's ultimate caretaker, Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom, is evident, as is his hopeful enthusiasm for the project's casting (which includes Michael Caine, Tobey McGuire, Jane Alexander, and Charlize Theron). Yet Irving can't repress the wariness prompted by his earlier disappointments with both this and other novels.

Ultimately, such candor doesn't diminish the account's value as a post mortem of the creative process behind serious filmmaking, nor does it overpower the reliable grace of Irving's prose. Fans will also find My Movie Business revealing in its exploration of the inspiration behind The Cider House Rules and its eloquent stance against the antiabortion movement--Irving's own grandfather, a leading doctor, administrator, and Harvard professor of obstetrics and gynecology. But moviegoers, as well as those who haven't read Irving's original novel, should be forewarned that this memoir does reveal key plot elements of both. --Sam Sutherland --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

After three of his novels became motion pictures scripted by other writers (The World According to Garp, Hotel New Hampshire and A Prayer for Owen Meany, which was rechristened on screen as Simon Birch), and two of his own screenplays languished unproduced, Irving finally got his chance to adapt one of his novels to film. The focus of this slim, eloquent memoir is Irving's 13-year struggle to bring The Cider House Rules to the big screen, and its passage through the hands of various producers, four different directors and numerous rewrites. Backtracking to illuminate the origin of the novel's pro-abortion stance, Irving introduces readers to his grandfather, an obstetrician and gynecologist, and to the history of abortion. (Abortions didn't become illegal throughout the U.S. until 1846, when physicians sought to take the procedureAand financial rewardsAout of the hands of midwives, Irving reveals.) He also offers a fascinating and detailed look at how he trimmed his huge novel into a workable screenplay. Although he professes to love the final product, Irving details each scene and line that was cut as the film was edited down to two hours. While he claims to be pleased with the screen treatments of his previous novels, he is disappointingly silent on the subject of Simon Birch (he refused the filmmakers the use of the protagonist's name and also insisted that the screen credit state that the film was "Suggested by the novel"). 32 pages of photographs. (Nov.) FYI: The Cider House Rules, starring Tobey McGuire, Michael Caine and Erykah Badu, opens Nov. 24.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

John Irving published his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, in 1968. He has been nominated for a National Book Award three times-winning once, in 1980, for the novel The World According to Garp. He also received an O. Henry Award, in 1981, for the short story "Interior Space." In 1992, Mr. Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 2000, he won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules-a film with seven Academy Award nominations. In 2001, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

For more information about the author, please visit www.john-irving.com

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Donald Beale on November 23, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Not everyone will be interested to read this book. If you are a fan of John Irving, however, or interested in the process of adapting a film from a novel, you'll find this a quick, fun read, and informative to some extent. What I found most interesting was Mr. Irving's views on adaptation and the glimpses on how those views changed over the years. Most authors and readers presume that the only good adaptation is one literal to the book. Mr. Irving shows why that isn't the case, and he does so by relating his own experiences as author and screenwriter. Most of the book is about the upcoming Cider House Rules; I would have liked to have read more about the previous films adapted from other novels. Nevertheless, as a novelist's honest assessment of adaptation, it is an unusual and valuable document.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
It only took John Irving ("A Widow For One Year," "A Son of the Circus") thirty years to break into the movie business. His first attempt cam in 1968, when he was hired to draft a screenplay for his first novel, "Setting Free the Bears." Since that time, Irving has seen three of his novels turned into films, written one original (but, as of yet, unproduced screenplay) and spent thirteen years shepherding his screenplay of "The Cider House Rules" onto the Silver Screen. "My Movie Business" is a record of all that, and more. Because "The Cider House Rules" (screenplay and novel) relies on the subject of abortion as a central issue, Irving starts his memoir by telling us about his grandfather, Dr. Frederick C. Irving. Not only was Dr. Irving chief of staff at Boston Lying-In (one of the world's leading obstetrical hospitals in the early 1900's), he was a writer who cobbled up numerous limericks (many of which live on through medical students) and published three books. Irving's quotes from his grandfather's reveal a "Victorian prose" style that (along with the novels of Charles Dickens) belie an early influence. In writing about grandfather, Irving succinctly sums up his own creed as a novelist: "Grandfather was a man of extreme erudition and unaccountable, even inspired, bad taste; as such, he would have been a terrific novelist, for a good novel is at once sophisticated in its understanding of human behavior and utterly rebellious in its response to the conventions of good taste." Irving uses most of the first nine chapters to educate the reader on the history of abortions in America, detailing his grandfather's personal involvement as well.Read more ›
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Supadlicious on January 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. I am, admittedly, an avid John Irving fan, and to finally have a book not only by, but about him was thrilling. It is so nice to finally get a glimpse of the man behind the novels. What an interesting person! He is witty, intelligent, and engaging. The only thing I regret is that he included only two stanzas of his grandfather's infamous poem. I am very eager to read it in it's entirety. Hopefully, Mr. Irving will include it in a future book. This memoir, while short, was very informative, and even persuaded me to consider seeing the movie. In general I refuse to see movies that are based on novels, especially if they are novels I enjoyed. However, since Irving explains his motives for cutting out certain characters, as well as the other changes he made to the plot, I am prepared for an equally beautiful, if different, story. Overall, I enjoyed every aspect of this book, from the history of abortion in the United States to the digressions about other novels of his. A fine book, and a fascinating person! Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By H. Isham on March 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a book for those that say, " the book was better than the movie." Irving relates many of the alternitive choices and reasons in cutting a big book into something "marketable." Who is in or out, which of your offspring are you willing to sacrifice for the common good, something a writer- screenwriter is loath to do. This is an education for those not conversant with movie making with allits permutations. Read the Novel, read this book, and see the movie. Ask yourself how you would have done it.Thank You, John Irving
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sean McElhiney on January 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A rare glimpse inside the mind of one of America's greatest novelists and screenwriters. It is both fun and rewarding to learn what goes on behind the scenes in the movie industry and what goes into a novel as complex as The Cider House Rules.
Mr. Irving is in a position to be entirely subjective - he's earned this forum and he uses it to his advantage. This is a book of opinion and nowhere does the author hold back.
If you care at all about what goes into the maknig of a top quality movie and what goes on inside the mind of one of our best, pick up My Movie Business.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "lennono" on November 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
John Irving's newest book, is a 'postcard' from the great novelist to his fans. Definitely not heavy reading, but enjoyable reading. Especially for those who love The Cider House Rules, the details he gives on how he came to write the book and the screenplay are great. Sweet and short!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Lewis on May 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
After thoroughly enjoying both the film and novel version of "The Cider House Rules," "My Movie Business" seemed the perfect read to bring the two together. I was surprised at how slowly the book started. Although it was interesting to see how Irving's grandfather influenced his book, the first few chapters left me disappointed, and I almost put the book aside for good. Once Irving starts to chronicle the transformation of his novel into a script, however, the book picks up significantly, and can be finished in a day or two (it's only 170 pages long, with gratuitous spacing).
Irving also details the processes of changing his other novels into films, yet because I hadn't read or seen any of them, these sections didn't hold as much value to me as the ones of "The Cider House Rules." If you've seen or read John Irving's novels and films, especially "Cider House," this book gives you a behind the scenes view of the difficulties of making a movie out of an epic book. If you're not a John Irving fan though, you might want to stay away, or at least make a screening and reading of "Cider House" a prerequisite for purchasing "My Movie Business."
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