Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Two Cent Tuesday: Odeathon

From 11/2-11/9 is Tony Laplume's Odeathon blogfest.  I keep thinking of it as the Odinthon, though that would have an entirely different meaning; it would be appropriately timed with Thor 2 coming out on Friday.

The idea is to write an ode to your favorite author.  I already did that back in 2004 with a short story with a long name:  Spring in the Land of Broken Dreams.  It's an ode to the works of John Irving, chock full of references to his novels--as many as there were at the time.  If you're really familiar with his books you can probably find most of them.

Go over to Wattpad and read the story.  Then come back here and I'll give you the list of references--the conscious ones anyway.

In the meantime, here's some appropriate music to read by.

And now some spoiler space!  Here's the revised revised revised hopefully last edition of the cover to Girl Power:  The Impostors.  I realized the old version had all this space in the middle and the guy's ear kept bugging me because it was front and center.  so in the second one you can see how I cut the ear off by putting the girl's hair over it.  Now it looks more like she's standing in front of him, which gives it more of a 3D look so it's less flat.  The overlapping isn't seamless, but from a distance I don't think it's noticeable.

OK, so there's all the spoiler space in case you wanted to do this right and not just cheat to find the answers.

Anyway, here are all the John Irving book references in the short story:
  1. The fat, obnoxious Harriet is the type of overbearing girl found in The Cider House Rules, A Prayer for Owen Meaney, and Until I Found You (for starters)
  2. The author's name "Jack Colvin" is an amalgamation of Jack being another name for John, Col from Ted Cole in A Widow for One Year, and "vin" like IrVINg.  Lot of work went into that.
  3. The New England setting of the town is a staple of many Irving novels
  4. New Hampshire is the setting (obviously) for The Hotel New Hampshire
  5. The town of St. John's stems from St. Clouds in The Cider House Rules combined of course with the author's name
  6. The red Volvo would be like the one TS Garp drives in The World According to Garp, in which one son is killed and another blinded in a car accident
  7. The Black Angus cows behind a stone wall were mentioned in The World According to Garp when he went out jogging and was nearly killed by a crazed fan
  8. St. John's Academy is similar to those featured in many Irving books, all of them based off Exeter (and sometimes he gets lazy and just uses Exeter)
  9. The wrestling coach is based off the one in Hotel New Hampshire for the most part, but also probably some other books as wrestling is another staple
  10. The coach's name "Bob Wolf" is an amalgamation of the wrestling coach in Hotel New Hampshire and a literary agent in Garp
  11. The cannon with names of lovers on it is similar to one in The World According to Garp that became filled with condoms
  12. The Federal-style house on Fourth Street where the old lady lives is based off the one the narrator lives in in A Prayer for Owen Meaney
  13. The lady's surname "Berry" comes from Hotel New Hampshire
  14. The pictures on the wall is a reference to A Widow for One Year
  15. When she says a picture is "out of cleaning" it's the same excuse Eddie gives to young Ruth in A Widow for One Year
  16. Prostitutes are featured in many Irving books
  17. Bears are another Irving staple.  I couldn't wedge an actual bear in, so I used the bear-shaped door knocker as a substitute
  18. "Bogus" (used here for a dog) was the main character's nickname in The Water Method Man  
  19. The dog's breed comes from Hotel New Hampshire or The World According to Garp (or possibly both)
  20. Pooh-slinging with lacrosse sticks was featured in The Fourth Hand

So you can see I crammed a whole lot of references into my ode to John Irving.  There aren't specific references to a few books like Setting Free the Bears, The 158-Pound Marriage, or Son of the Circus but some of the general ones cover those.  I really would have liked to wedge in some mention of Vienna, Toronto, and India since those were locations of some of Irving's novels, but obviously I was a bit limited by the New England setting.  I think in an early draft I had someone from Vienna with a bear but I think I cut it because the story was getting too long.

And before you go and think I'm some creepy stalker, the whole point of this story is that you shouldn't meet your literary hero because you might find they aren't who you think they are.  The idea for that came when I read Irving's autobiography in Trying to Save Piggy Sneed and when he was writing about a visit to the White House during the Reagan era it occurred to me the author might be kind of a jerk.  I did write him eventually and he was very nice in his reply, so perhaps he's mellowed since then.

Have you ever thought of doing an homage to your favorite author?


  1. There was a whole chapter in Yoshimi devoted to Roberto Bolano's 2666.

    You clearly love John Irving! This I knew already, but clearly, clearly...The closest I've come, however, is the movie Simon Birch, because it was narrated by Jim Carrey...

    1. Ha, Simon Birch, the project Irving disavowed though unlike Alan Moore on Watchmen he couldn't get his name completely taken off and so instead it says "Suggested By". On a side note I wonder if that bus crashing scene inspired the one in Man of Steel?

    2. You may be right about why he walked away, but I heard that it was because the story had simply been altered so much that he no longer felt it was close enough to what he'd originally written. Not so much negatively, then, as a creative difference.

      And I'll also give Irving this much from movie memories (and the only scene I know from it): Michael Caine saying "Goodnight, you princes of Maine, you kings of New England" from Cider House Rules. Still one of my favorites, and the whole reason I fell in love with Caine as an actor.

  2. I just skimmed the story. I need more time to read it.
    I did read part of The Cider House Rules after the movie came out, but never got back to it. It was one of those "Now a Major Motion Picture!" paperbacks.

  3. The second version of your cover definitely places more attention on the girl, which is a good thing considering the title of your novel.

  4. I love John Irving and enjoyed your tribute very much. I discovered his work my first year out of college and plowed through every book of his I could find. Owen Meany is my favorite. In Hotel NH, I fell in love with Franny - my first time falling for a book character.

  5. Good covers Pat. There are lots of authors that do nods to their favorite authors and I never get tired of it.

  6. I did write a song dedicated to the works of Alastair Reynolds once, but that's about it.

  7. I'll be honest. I wasn't going to go read the story, and then I read the list of references, and it made me want to go read it. So now I'll do that.

    I like the new cover.

  8. One moment, please....Arggghhhhh!!! Blogfests, blog hops, alphabet challenges, make them STOP!!! Okay, I feel better now.

    If I, heaven forbid, was involved in this, I would write an ode to you, Pat. Nice cover. You look very good in the photo. Although I note you've switched sides....



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