There was an interesting interview with John Irving in the July 18, 2005 issue of Newsweek regarding his new book, Until I Find You. The following, at the end of the interview, resonated with me:
"Malcolm Jones: 'Until I Find You' has one of the most satisfying endings I've read in ages..." [deleted for anyone who doesn't want to be spoiled, though it isn't much of a spoiler if the author and interviewers keep talking about it.]..."everything that's come before seems worth it. It's a great payoff.
"John Irving: Thanks, but there'd better be. I don't say that just for the personal difficulties I had with the novel's subject matter. I say it more for the reader... [spoiler deleted]... You can't make a reader take a journey this long and not reward him."
The book is long, as Irving's book usually are and the reviews have been mixed. Some have called it his best novel in a long time while others thought it a muddle. But I liked that Irving was thinking of his readers, even if not all of them will consider his efforts on their behalf successful. He wants and intends the reader to be rewarded for making it to the end of his book. I hope the ending is what the story demanded and that he didn't bend it for the reader (I plan to be one of them once it's in paperback, which should be easier to lug around than the hardcover), but I am glad he was honest about writing for the reader.
Perhaps someday, I'll be successful enough that I'll be able to think about the reader when I'm writing, but for now, that's the kiss of death for my prose. I need to concentrate on the story that needs to be told and the way it best needs telling. I deviate from that and I try too hard or sabotage myself. I get tentative and unsure.