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My Movie Business: A Memoir
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My Movie Business: A Memoir

3.34  ·  Rating details ·  1,227 ratings  ·  64 reviews
John Irving's memoir begins with his account of the distinguished career and medical writings of the novelist's grandfather Dr. Frederick C. Irving, a renowned obstetrician and gynecologist, and includes Mr. Irving's incisive history of abortion politics in the United States. But My Movie Business focuses primarily on the thirteen years John Irving spent adapting his novel ...more
Paperback, 222 pages
Published October 10th 2000 by Ballantine Books (first published 1999)
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Average rating 3.34  · 
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 ·  1,227 ratings  ·  64 reviews

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Feb 18, 2017 rated it liked it
This book resembled a cosy fireside chat with John Irving on the conversion of novels into screenplays. Although The Cider House Rules is the main subject under consideration, there are detours into his other novels that ended up as films, notably The World According to Garp and The Hotel New Hampshire, and the one that, try as he might, never made it to the cinema, his first novel, Setting Free the Bears.

I wondered why the eminent novelist had considered writing this memoir of his dabbling in
Aug 12, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2017
I thought this "memoir" might help me to get back into John Irving`s writing, as I havent been enjoying his novels lately. Unfortunately, if anything, it steered me farther away. I did however like learning about the movie business and the surprisingly complicated process of turning a book into a movie, but the text is just really dry. I couldnt help being bored even though this is quite a short book. My Movie Business didnt even make me want to watch the movies it discusses so unless youre a ...more
Mar 05, 2012 rated it liked it
The main gist of this book was to explain how some of his books were made into movies with the main one being "Cider House" because he wrote the screenplay for years. It touched on all his novels and it helped me remember something about the books I had read a long time ago but the most interesting and the one given the most information was "Cider House".
He explains that his grandfather was an OB/GYN who graduated from Harvard in 1910 and wrote 3 books. One his books was published in 1942 and
Oct 19, 2009 rated it did not like it
Repetitive, dull and self-aggrandizing. Can't believe this is the same JI who wrote Garp, Owen Meany etc. I learned nothing about movies, nothing about JI and nothing about the process of adapting novels to the screen. One of the laziest books I've read in a long time. At least it's short.
Douglas Cosby
Mar 06, 2019 rated it liked it
This really should be called "The Making of Cider House Rules." While Irving does discuss Garp and Hotel New Hampshire a little bit, you can tell that Cider House was top of mind when he was writing this. (The simplest explanation being that Cider House was his most recent movie effort at the time.) Because this was a toilet book for me, I heartily enjoyed it -- the chapters are small and easily consumable in a single bathroom session, and Irving's blunt, sentimental language shines through in ...more
Jun 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a very short memoir/long essay of sorts about Irving turning his novel “The Cider House Rules” into a screenplay. I have not read the book or seen the film, but after reading this, there are enough spoilers and details to extinguish most of the mystery within both. The author also gives us some insights into many of his previous experiences in trying to adapt some of his other novels onto the silver screen, with some predictably mixed, though entertaining results.

There is some
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
John Irving is one of my favorite novelists, but I haven't read much of his nonfiction. He might not HAVE much available nonfiction, but I always enjoy his forewords and afterwords to his novels. I like novelists with introspection.

I had passed this slim book by more than once, and even now I don't know why. My journey with John Irving began with The Cider House Rules. The film was coming out in fewer than two weeks, and my friend Tracey and I challenged each other to finish the book before we
Jun 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Could anyone feel more self-important than Mr. Irving? There is nothing of note here. It is a sanitized, glossing-over of both novel writing and filmmaking. A reader unfamiliar with either will learn absolutely nothing. I'm still baffled as to the point of this book at all.

I'm sorry to say that the most interesting and memorable points in the 'story' are in the beginning. Once Mr. Irving abandons his remembrance of his grandfather, you'd might as well stop reading. Indeed, I'm inclined to try
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Mostly stories from the lengthy process of turning his novel 'The Cider House Rules' into a movie with little detours into details of his other publications and their movie versions, this book provided a perfect entry into John Irving's world for me.

I must admit that after a good friend and bookseller warned me that 'his books might just be a little too distasteful for my tender age' (which, back then, she was certainly right about) I never showed any interest in one of Mr. Irving's books or
Mike Dirksen
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I won t say much more than that i enjoyed reading this book, because it explores the joys, and sometimes also the frustrations of a renowned author getting his favorite books brought to the big screen. It also goes into the relationship this author had with his family and, especially, his famous doctor grandfather. It is very flattering for any author to have even one book made into a movie, but three or four of his were, and he seems to have gotten alot of enjoyment and a genuine satisfaction ...more
Oct 11, 2018 rated it liked it
A bit repetitive in parts, but I enjoyed reading about one of my favorite movies (and favorite novels). It was probably more interesting to me because the movie was partially filmed in the town I went to college in, as well as a drive-in movie theatre I frequented as a kid.
Jul 29, 2018 rated it liked it

I think I might need a Cider House project - a reread of the book and a rewatch of the movie (with this book by my side).
Thomas Lowe
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this when it came out in hardcover in 1999. It took me nearly 20 years to read it. I liked it. I enjoyed reading about what went into adapting Irving's novels into films.
E.H. Nolan
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
I've seen the film version of The Cider House Rules at least ten times, and my worn copy of the novel is one of my most prized books. I don't even let guests touch it; I've been known to buy them their own copy rather than let them preview the story with mine.

Needless to say, I was more than interested to find out why John Irving decided to cut out major parts of his novel for the film adaptation. No spoilers here, but the film is drastically different than the book. I thought this memoir would
Aug 29, 2009 rated it liked it
John Irving is my favorite author and I had been waiting to read this book. Unfortunately, because it's been several years since I've read most of his novels, many of the references he makes in this memoir were distant memories for me. The memoir focuses on the writing of Cider House Rules and the subsequent making of the movie. I would strongly discourage anyone from reading this book who has NOT yet read Cider House Rules as there are spoilers. I haven't seen the movie, and I wished I had, ...more
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
After three of his novels became motion pictures scripted by other writers (The World According to Garp, Hotel New Hampshire and A Prayer for Owen Meany, which was rechristened on screen as Simon Birch), and two of his own screenplays languished unproduced, Irving finally got his chance to adapt one of his novels to film. The focus of this slim, eloquent memoir is Irving's 13-year struggle to bring The Cider House Rules to the big screen, and its passage through the hands of various producers, ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life


John Irving's memoir begins with his account of the distinguished career and medical writings of the novelist's grandfather Dr Frederick C. Irving, a renowned obstetrician and gynaecologist, and includes Mr Irving's incisive history of abortion politics in the United States. But My Movie Business focuses primarily on the thirteen years John Irving spent adapting his novel The Cider House Rules for the screen - for four
Jul 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Being a John Irving fan, this book was a must read.

I have read every book he has written. To me every one of his books has a certain je nais sais pas that makes it a special reading experience.

Perhaps it is the recurrent setting in Vienna? Well, that and so much more.

In this book he writes of his collaboration with producers and directors to bring "Cider House Rules" to the big screen. Often times frustrating and humorous, it clearly shows the difference between the written word meant to be
Sep 03, 2010 rated it liked it
John Irving describes the 14-year process of bringing his novel, "The Cider House Rules" to the screen. An interesting look at the differences between novel and screenplay writing and the concessions made by each form. "The Cider House Rules" is a well-made and entertaining film, I never read the book but am sure it lines up with the best of Irving's works. The story is Irving's chance to develop his views on abortion--those being that it is a compassionate practice for mother and the presumed ...more
David Macpherson
Feb 13, 2013 rated it liked it
I tried to read this a while back, but couldn't get into it. The first fifty pages deals with the of abortion and the role Irving's grandfather played in it as a respected OB/GYN. This was a slog and I gave up. Last week, my wife and I saw Irving speak in New Hampshire, and I felt the need to try a book of his soon. It was snowing, we were in the house, I figured I would give it another shot. The first fifty pages was still a slog, but the rest of the book was good. Conversational, a little ...more
Rose Harmon
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing

Fans of John Irving will love this memoir. As a fan of his novels it was a joy to read as it more than just his dealings with the movie business. Reading it gave me more insight on Irving's motivation to write "The Cider House Rules" and make sure it was made into a film. He does write about his other novels and their film adaptions, but Cider House is the heart and soul of the memoir. Along with it Irving intertwined his family history, intense research and the politics of abortion as
Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book was required reading for my film appreciation class and without it being required I never would have read it. I can understand the gist on why it was written as to somewhat explain the road from novel to movie, however it mostly read like an author with too much creative control of a movie hindering it from being completed for over 14 years.
I'm not dissing Irving's writing in anyway aside from this book feeling unnecessary when the novel and movie speak for themselves. That said
Aug 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
Read this very quickly. I was interested in it more for his discussion of his grandfather's career in obstetrics (and writings pertaining thereto), and the history of abortion in the U.S., and while the discussion there is brief and wanting, it was interesting. The Writer Writing About Writing stuff -- which comprises the book as a whole -- would probably be off-putting to most people, but as a fiction writer I was interested in his (surprisingly non-diva-like, at least for the most part) ...more
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Only for John Irving fans, and if you want a longer more in depth history read "Trying to save Piggy Sneed". This is mostly about adapting The Cider House Rules for film. I have loved the book since I first read it in High School, so much so I was terrified to watch the movie, lest it destroy my mental vision of the book. However it did force me to dig the paperback out of the basement and re-read it since its not available on the Kindle. (Neither was Owen Meany which I felt compelled to read ...more
Jun 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
As a huge Irving fan who could not wait for the movie The Cider House Rules to come out, I found this account of John's writing of the screenplay for the movie fascinating. I still find myself thinking of this book when I see movies adapted from novels I have read. Irving describes the choices and changes that he struggled with in bringing his novel to the screen and answered to some extent one of my burning questions about the film; why no Melony. This book is probably best appreciated if one ...more
Wilson Mui
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Easy to read, and entertaining. It's a short little memoir and it's broken up into very very digestible chapters (maybe 5 - 10 pages long, some much shorter). I would say a good 50% of them have real insight in not only his screenwriting but his novel composition as well. When you read a John Irving novel everything is so precise and well placed that I never think it actually takes down and dirty work to place them in those precise places. Now I realize how much thought (and obviously natural ...more
Apr 26, 2008 rated it liked it
This was a quick read and an interesting look at Irving's experience with turning his books into movies. It centers around his more than 14-year-long voyage to bring The Cider House Rules to the screen, which made me really want to re-read the book and re-watch the movie, but he also mentions his other movie-making experiences. It was a short book, and it didn't delve too deeply into the process of turning your own book into a movie, though he does touch on the difficulty of making a long and ...more
Laura Buechler
Aug 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
This book is more than a memoir. Irving writes with passion and intelligence about his grandfather, a famous obstetrician in the 1940s, and how that inspiration gave birth to Irving's novel "The Cider House Rules". He also details the lengthy labour of love to get the book made into a film, one which would eventually win several Academy Awards. But most compellingly, Irving writes about the political history of abortion in the United States. A fascinating read.
Jennifer Smith
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you've read the Cider House Rules and seen the movie, this is the best companion to explain why it is John Irving did what he did when he wrote the screenplay. I was upset about the movie after having read the book, realizing that only half the story was there. But Irving clearly explains why certain scenes are missing and how he introduced new characters in order to round the story out without making the movie 5 hours long.
Jun 12, 2008 rated it liked it
I read this in one sitting, which is something I never thought I'd say about something by John Irving. It's insightful, indeed. The books he's turned into movies have been pretty hit or miss. I watched The Hotel New Hampshire right after I read this and he was right, it's basically god awful. But then you see where he had really terrible ideas about The Cider House Rules and how turning a book into a film is really quite difficult. This would have been a perfect book to read on a flight.
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JOHN IRVING was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942. His first novel, Setting Free the Bears, was published in 1968, when he was twenty-six. He competed as a wrestler for twenty years, and coached wrestling until he was forty-seven.
Mr. Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times—winning once, in 1980, for his novel The World According to Garp. He received an O. Henry Award
“Religious freedom should work two ways: we should be free to practice the religion of our choice, but we must also be free from having someone else's religion practiced on us.” 174 likes
“If you can't love crudeness, how can you truly love mankind?” 36 likes
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