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Ron Irwin Discusses His Debut Novel, Flat Water Tuesday, with Joan Hambidge (Plus: Podcast Review)

Flat Water TuesdayJoan Hambidge interviewed Ron Irwin for LitNet about his debut novel, Flat Water Tuesday. They discussed rowing, which is a central focus of the book, and Irwin commented that “Rowing is a metaphor for endurance and commitment to a team”, he was a rower both at school and university and said, “I still have dreams about it. It feels like flying.”

They discussed the themes and issues raised in the book and Irwin spoke about studying under JM Coetzee, saying that “he provided what is certainly the best thing a mentor can provide: a good example.”

Read the interview:

Congratulations on your wonderful debut, Flat water Tuesday, a riveting novel. The sport is not just about brute power. Or endurance. Or the ability to suffer. Rowing in a team forces you to respond to what other men do in the boat. To adhere to a strategy. To follow commands. To put your petty gripes and prejudices and fears aside” (65). Rowing is a metaphor for endurance. Are you personally interested in this sport?

I learned how to row at the West Side Rowing Club in Buffalo, New York when I was 15 and went on to boarding school in Connecticut, where I rowed for three years. I also rowed at university in two varsity teams. I have rowed as a sculler, in a four-man shell and in an eight-man shell. It is safe to say that there was a considerable time in my life when all that mattered was rowing. I was lucky enough to have had magnificent coaching and to have rowed with some truly talented oarsmen. It really wasn’t until my last year in university when it occurred to me that there might be more to life than rowing, and I quit the sport so I could have free time to have fun, party … do normal college student things. But I also knew that I was not going to get much better as a rower. I had reached my personal best during the final races of my third year at university. Overall, I was a good rower, but not as good as the main character in my novel.

John Maytham reviewed Flat Water Tuesday on Talk Radio 702, commenting that “Ron Irwin’s particular skill in this book is to take an environment and a sport which is not terribly well known and much followed and make it absolutely real and accessible for the readers… It’s an exceptional novel about sport … a very good novel indeed.”

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