Several weeks ago, when I posted my blog story about meeting John Irving, my wife thought that Mr. Irving himself might enjoy story, and she suggested that I send him a copy. So I mailed a hard copy with a two-sentence cover letter to his agent in Vermont, and never expected a reply. Last week, I received the following letter:
“Dear Mr. Weisel: My wife, who is also my literary agent, showed me your letter to her of August 12, 2012, together with your account of meeting me at the Boston Ritz-Carlton in ’78. I remember the snotty way the dress code was enforced there. One of my children was not allowed to have dinner because he was wearing white athletic socks. He was wearing a suit and tie, but with white socks. I had to go out and buy him some dress socks on Newbury Street. I enjoyed your account, and I’m glad I behaved myself. It is nice to get a letter not asking me for anything; I enjoyed hearing from you. Yours truly, John Irving.”
I’ve long thought that John Irving is one of the best American novelists of the last 40 years. Now I also think that, even with the success and fame that he has earned, he has somehow managed to remain very much the same genuine, down-to-earth man whom I first met in 1978.