John (Winslow) Irving 1942–
Irving is a straightforward storyteller whose work may be read on several levels. His novels are thought-provoking but are not "difficult" to read in terms of style or structure. His narratives are varied, energetic, and rich with fantasy and humor; but Irving also shares with other "more serious" contemporary writers a concern with the inexorability of fate and the nature of art.
The controversy surrounding Irving's recent novels, The World According to Garp and The Hotel New Hampshire, centers on his use of incongruities and black humor. While some critics find the violence and tragedy gratuitous, others feel that it strengthens the irony and enlivens the narrative. They point to an essential optimism in his work in the very survival of his characters.
(See also CLC, Vol. 13; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 25-28, rev. ed.; and Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 6.)