Intelligent and Accessible

I finished reading John Irving’s The Hotel New Hampshire on Thursday, the first of the books I picked up to read from the large stack I procured a couple of weeks ago at the Goodwill in Maine. While I objected to his overuse of certain key expressions throughout the book (“Keep passing the open windows,” being one of them), I did enjoy the piece as a whole. It straddled the line between literary and popular fiction quite well, feeling both intelligent and accessible.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, The Hotel New Hampshire is primarily concerned with the lives of a New England family as they live in a series of hotels in both the United States and in Europe, each of them called—you guessed it—the Hotel New Hampshire. Three generations of the family are represented in the book, though it deals mostly with the youngest generation, the children. In this regard, its premise is quite similar to the novel I am currently at work on. So, while I didn’t take any physical, written notes, I was making mental ones as I went along. In terms of coming up with a unique family dynamic, and in terms of creating such a wide array of well-drawn characters, I was able to learn a lot from Irving.

Now it’s on to a re-reading of The Great Gatsby, something I haven’t picked up since high school (and I barely picked up back then, as evidenced by my quite inadequate English marks). Gatsby is mentioned quite a lot in The Hotel New Hampshire, so it seemed only natural that it should be what I read next.