Sunday, September 21, 2008

Keep Passing the Open Windows...

In light of the tragedy which occurred while we were on vacation and out of the news loop, it seems a creepy coincidence that I was reading The Hotel New Hampshire, by John Irving. In this novel, the Berry family adopts the catch phrase, "keep passing the open windows" as a reminder to each other to chin up, stay positive, and keep going. Unfortunately, one of these family members, the writer Lily, will succumb to an open window. (David Foster Wallace would have stated that she defenestrated herself, and he certainly taught us the word anhedonia, or the inability to experience joy.)

As I would say of all of Irving's books, this one is brilliant, surreal, complicated, and sometimes hilariously funny. It's quite something, how Irving can do that, can make the reader go along with such bizarre story lines, all the while staying glued to the pages. This is a fairy tale about an unusual couple who have five children who possess five very different, eccentric personalities. The father is the dreamer who makes weird choices for his family, and as a result, the children are subjected to weird circumstances and strange people, in addition to the personal tragedies and challenges each must cope with.

Though I was fascinated with this novel, it is not my favorite of Irving's, so far. There are several I haven't read yet, but I must say that my favorite so far is still A Widow for One Year, followed closely by The Cider House Rules. However, I am very interested in renting The Hotel New Hampshire (1984) which is said to be very faithful to the book, and strangely, the lovely Nastassja Kinski portrayed Suzie the Bear, a plain girl with so many issues that she spends most of her time in--a bear costume.

I followed a four-year tradition of mine of depositing a good book in the Lindo's itty-bitty library. Maybe someone will enjoy it. I certainly did.

*Incidentally, the Queen song called Keep Passing the Open Windows was originally written for the movie's soundtrack, but the band backed out of doing that, for some reason I was too lazy to look up.


Doug said...

According to Wikipedia, Queen was trying to work on a new album when their manager offered the chance to work on the soundtrack. When the work on the soundtrack distracted them from their studio album, the soundtrack broke down.

TLP said...

I have three of your books, which I borrowed while visiting Serena. I'll bring two of them with me tonight.

I wanted to borrow Chronicle of a Death Foretold, but you must have taken it with you.

Sean P. Farley said...

I'd like to say I'm a voracious reader; however, school and life and school (did I mention school) has sucked out of me the time and energy it takes to read. My point is that I have NEVER read a John Irving novel. No, correction: I have YET TO read a John Irving novel. I've been told "The World According to Garp" is fantastic (Oh my God, that IS a John Irving novel, isn't it? SO much for my years working at Barnes & Noble). Someday. We'll see. I'd like to finish my own novel first ( something I started years back because, as they say, we all have a book in us).'re an avid reader. Ever try your hand at writing your own?