Typewriter of the moment: Where John Irving birthed Garp

September 19, 2019

IBM Selectric typewriter upon which John Irving wrote The World According to Garp. Photo courtesy of David Armstrong.

Photo from typewriter repairman and aficionado David Armstrong, from a Facebook group dedicated to IBM typewriters.

Armstrong said his client tells the provenance: The typewriter upon which John Irving wrote The World According to Garp. “It was completely worn out but after a complete rebuild my customer couldn’t be happier.”

This year marks 40 years since Garp was published — difficult to believe the time gone by. This may be the last novel I devoured in a day or so.

Irving marks the 40th anniversary at his website, with some somber notes.

This year I’m celebrating the 40th anniversary of the publication of my novel, The World According to Garp. I remember thinking the title of my fourth novel would change; The World According to Garp was always just a working title until something better came along. I was still looking for “something better” when I delivered the manuscript to Henry Robbins, my editor. Henry, and everyone else at Dutton who read Garp in manuscript form, declared that the title had to be The World According to Garp. I was stuck with it.


More importantly, it is a bittersweet feeling to have only recently written a teleplay of Garp, a miniseries in five episodes, because I always imagined — more than forty years ago — that the sexual hatred in the novel might become dated soon after it was published. Sadly, sexual hatred is still with us — it hasn’t gone away. The suspicion of sexual differences, the discrimination against sexual minorities — including flat-out bigotry and violence — haven’t become the extinct dinosaurs I thought these things would (and should) become.


In part, The World According to Garp depicts the struggles of the writing process — the false starts, the blocks, the disappointments. Yet Garp never loses conviction in his purpose as a writer, “because he knew what every artist should know: as Garp put it, ‘You only grow by coming to the end of something and by beginning something else.’ Even if these so-called endings and beginnings are illusions.”

There are days I sorely miss my old Selectric.


Education Department crowdsourcing for innovation

June 25, 2010

But, will it get my classroom thermostat under control?  Will it fix the copy machine?

Story at Federal News Rado’s Dorobek Insider:

The Department of Education is trying to foster innovation in a new and unique way.

They’ve created an innovation portal and are crowdsourcing ideas to try and improve education across the country.

Jim Shelton is Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement at the Department of Education.

He says the idea for the portal came about after they held a competition with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

The Education Department held a contest, funded by ARRA, to highlight good work being done by educators across the country.

They soon realized that there would be an even greater benefit if people weren’t simply competing with each other, but sharing ideas.

“In the run up to the competition and afterward [we realized] that there would be great benefit to all of the education community being able to hear about and see these ideas, for people to share information, find opportunities for partnership, [and] . . . for teachers and entrepreneurs to be seen by people who have funding and might be interested in supporting their work.”

Thus, the Open Innovation Portal was created.

More, there.

Well I remember when Information Services at OERI had most the department’s automation innovation, and it was in an unlocked room with a 386 computer running a toll-free telephone bulletin board.  Have we come a long way?

The true innovation was how Ned Chalker beat OPM at put a lock on the door to keep the computers from walking away.


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