I was listening to the radio this morning and I heard a story about the trial of someone who caused a big commuter train wreck by parking his SUV on the railroad tracks in a purported suicide attempt. The reporter mentioned that one of the survivors of that crash went on to die in an even larger commuter train wreck about a year later.
It struck me that here was proof that the "logic" that if you survive something like that train crash once, you are safe from train wrecks in the future--a little piece of magical thinking I live my life by--is completely flawed.
It reminded me of a scene in the movie version of John Irving's novel The World According to Garp, where a small plane hits the house that Garp and his wife are looking to buy, and Garp says they should take the house, because it's "pre-disastered"--now nothing bad can possibly happen here!
Calling things "pre-disastered" has become a family joke, and I can still relate to Garp's attitude.
The World According to Garp, John Irving's third novel, was a cultural phenomenon. I was maybe 12 or 13 when the book was published, and I still remember the red, blue, and green foil covers of the mass-market paperback edition all over the book racks at my local drugstore. It was one of the first grown-up novels I ever read, part of my introduction to serious fiction. I was struck by the character of Garp, related to his fear of death, and loved the weirdness of the novel. And even though John Irving and I have grown apart a little, stylistically, over the years, I still feel I owe him for shaping my reading life.
Do you remember the first books that bridged children's books and grown-up books for you? What was your introduction to grown-up fiction?