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From ​a novelist known for the complexity of his novels – they are also long – comes an autobiography of compelling simplicity; it is also short. Dedicated to the memory of two wrestling coaches and two writer friends, The Imaginary Girlfriend is a lucid portrait of the writers and wrestlers who played a mentor role in John Irving’s development as a novelist, a wrestler and a wrestling coach. Moreover, this candid memoir portrays a father’s dedication to his children: Irving coached his sons Colin and Brendan to New England championship titles – a championship that, as a competitor, he himself was denied.
John Irving began writing and wrestling when he was fourteen. He competed as a wrestler for twenty years, he was certified as a referee for twenty-four and he coached the sport until he was forty-seven. His thirty-three years in wrestling are three times those he spent as a student and a teacher of Creative Writing; yet his concise autobiography details the interrelationship of the disciplines of writing and wrestling – from the days when Irving was a beginner at both pursuits until his fourth wrestling-related surgery at the age of fifty-three.
The Imaginary Girlfriend is both a work of the utmost literary accomplishment and a paradigm for living

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