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Personally I found the world according to garp a bit of a slow burner. It took a couple hundred pages before I can say I was hooked but really glad I stuck with it. The world according to Garp takes you on a journey of one man's life from the day he is born until the day he dies. At times I was unsure who the main character of the story was but there is no question the book revolves around Harp. A very well written, believable work of fiction which feels very 'true' to real life. At times this book is funny and at others heart wrenching but always enjoyable. A story that will linger with you and raise questions in your own mind. Worth reading twice to pick up on some of the themes you could easily miss first time round. This story was the first I have read by John Irving and it will most certainly not be the last.
Years ago I saw the movie with Robin Williams. Upon walking out of the theatre, I remarked to the silent, reflective audience, "'Does anybody understand what that movie was about?" Everybody offered a nervous laugh. Turns out the movie could not possibly do justice to the book even if Irving himself helped adapt the screenplay.
Finally, I got around to the novel; I finished it in one week while commuting between Staten Island and Brooklyn where I work. It seemed I could not put it down for long.
If I had read this masterpiece as a young man, I might agree with some of my fellow reviewers that this book could change your life. But as a 50 year old male living in NYC, it offered me clarification for the life I have lived. For sure, nothing resembling that of Garp and his family, just my understanding of life as I see it. Sure the violence and lust, fanaticism and standard prostituting business of book publishing as depicted in the novel are often gruesome and graphic. Somehow I could relate to it having lived long enough. I guess you could say I have been inured to the fallible and selfish inclinations of people. I would love to participate in a Book of the month club discussion of this novel. I am sure we could dissect it to death, exactly the kind of thing the protagonist would ostensibly object to.
If you are young (say 18 plus) and well read or at least 40, I would recommend this book. And just like Garp, it is not the kind of book I would allow my 13 year old child to read.
I received the book "The World According to Garp" donkeys years ago. I don't even remember who gave it to me. It has sat on my shelf- I read the first couple of pages a few times, and wasn't too convinced. The story opens up with the tales of Jenny Fields, a nurse who stabs a young male officer in the thigh for making a move on her in a cinema. It continues to weave the tale of how her mother sends her countless packages of hot water bottles and douche bags. Hmmm, I thought. What an odd, and slightly severe story. I never saw the film so had no frame of reference. A couple of weeks ago, I did something different. After reading those first few pages I continued, was propelled, if for nothing else but for the fact that I was too busy at work to have time to pop to the bookstore and get something more entertaining to read. By the fourth or so chapter I was hooked! John Irving's easy style is tremendously likeable. He manages to make his characters so three-dimensional, so human, with all of the flaws and winning characteristics of real people. Sure, the characters often do absolutely despicable things to each other- the main characters have affairs, lie to one another, have moments of true desperation. There are also the usual cast of Irvingian characters- prostitutes, transvestites, castrated men. What I found so interesting about the book is that as the character Garp slowly grows into becoming a writer, I believe that Irving himself subtly teaches us readers a lesson about writing. Certainly it has inspired me to put pen to paper (after quite a long period of writer's block) and he also includes many writer's truths -particularly about autobiographical fiction- which were insightful. After finishing Garp, I am very reluctant to read anymore of Irving's work or read anymore of anyone else's work for the fear taht it can never be as good as "The World according to Garp". It
has been said that this is his finest work (which does say a lot since he is a very talented writer) and it has spoiled me for all other fiction.
I have been a fan of John Irving's work since I was a student. This is one of the most amazing books that I have ever read. I must have read it 12 or 13 times now- I find it utterly hilarious and yet very moving. Irving succeeds in making even the most mundane situations full of vitality. There are times when you feel like laughing out loud, and there are times that you feel like crying. And then again there are times when you think 'oh my god!' and then carry on reading. That is the fascination witht eh book. There are some parts which require a strong stomach on the part of the reader, and yet you are not disgusted enough to want to stop reading - maybe you are reading a novel as Garp would have written it?? Aha... that begs a question that would rewuire a very long answer.... The book follows the life of the fictional writer TS Garp through various ups and downs. We follow him literally from conception to the end of his life, via various meetings with nurses, kindly whores, and one-eared dogs. He worries about speeding traffic, deals with his adulterous wife, or at least inadvertantly deals with her lover, whilst seducing a long line of babysitters. He puts up with being the son of a feminist who only wanted sperm, not a husband, and ultimately, through the web of happiness and disaster, love and hate, and befriending a transexual ex-football player, he writes a shocking and provocative novel, sacrificing art for sales, and we read its forst chapter as well. A word of warning, it is really a book for adults. It isn't obscene, but it isn't the sort of thing I'd like a kid to read.
Garp's world is our world. But seen through his eyes it is stripped of all pretensions. It is funny, evil, sad , outrageous, lustful :and everyone who reads this book can identify with the protagonist. That is the key to this book's success: the fact that we can all identify with TS Garp, the bastard son of feminist extraordinaire Jenny fields. It follows his life both onwards and backwards as Garp reminisces in his writings. In The World According to Garp Irving brings the coming of age novel in a form that has never before ( or since) been replicated. There are stories within stories ( TS Garp is a novelist) there are reminiscences of life, love and death. It tugs at your heartstrings one moment and makes you laugh the next. Irving populates his book with unique characters. His themes may be friendship and love but his vision is offbeat and thoroughly readable. ( It was published in 1978 but has not been off the bestseller lists since). There is a strong sense of family and relationships. Irving exposes our follies unflinchingly. The mistakes we make, The things we earn for, the dreams we abandon and the ones we do find. It is a big, life affirming book : definitely not a quick read but something you'll get lost into. John Irving has become an American institution. With his recent Oscar for best adapted screenplay ( The Cider House Rules) he has yet again proven that his control over his world is impeccable. The world According to Garp was made into a patchy if serviceable movie starring Robin Williams as TS Garp, Glen Close and John Lithgow as the transgendered friend. Unfortunately its the old cliche: the Book is far, far better than the movie. Read it. It just may change your life. (or atleast the way you look at it!)
How a book can be so funny and so sad at the same time, beats me. Garp can do this. It really is a fantastic book, even outdoing the Robin Williams film, which in itelf was excellent. I read the book after seeing the film, which can sometimes be a let down. Not in this case. I have on the strength of the film read several Irving books, The Water Method Man, Hotel New Hampshire, 158lb Marriage, Cider House Rules, A Prayer for Owen Meany...........all totally unexpected books. If you want something out of the ordinary, yet readable and laugh out loud funny at times, then I would recommend John Irving and his books to anyone. Garp is amongst his finest and without doubt my favorite book. It's worth reading if only for the 'under toad'. Enjoy and cry.
Garp is a book that captivates all who read it. Peopled with the most extraordinary characters you will ever meet, here is a novel that will make you laugh, make you weep, and, above all, make you think.