‘Widow’ runs wild in N.Y.

NEW YORK – John Irving is witnessing a real version of his novel “Setting Free the Bears,” about a guy who empties the zoo only to see hungry townsfolk eat the animals.

Somebody set free his new Random House novel before he was ready, and Hollywood book buyers are eating it up. Every buyer in town spent last week ripping through 875 manuscript pages of “A Widow for a Year.”

The leak peeved CAA’s Bob Bookman so much he let it be known that anybody bidding on the purloined pages wouldn’t be included in the real auction coming shortly.

The novel echoes “The World According to Garp’s” storyline about parents shattered by losing kids in a car crash. When the wife gets pregnant after losing two sons, she gives up the newborn daughter, fearing her jinx will plague the kid. Word is it’s Irving’s best since “Garp” (Daily Variety, July 28).

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