This is the life and times of T. S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields - a feminist leader ahead of her times. It is also the life and death of a famous mother and her almost-famous son; theirs is a world of sexual extremes - even of sexual assassinations. It is a novel rich with 'lunacy and sorrow'; yet the dark, violent events of the story do not undermine a comedy both ribald and robust. It provides almost cheerful, even hilarious evidence of its famous last line: "In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal ...
This is the life and times of T. S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields - a feminist leader ahead of her times. It is also the life and death of a famous mother and her almost-famous son; theirs is a world of sexual extremes - even of sexual assassinations. It is a novel rich with 'lunacy and sorrow'; yet the dark, violent events of the story do not undermine a comedy both ribald and robust. It provides almost cheerful, even hilarious evidence of its famous last line: "In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases."
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Another great book by John Irving. It's not quite up to the caliber of The Cider House Rules or A Prayer for Owen Meany, but it's still a fantastic book that is partially autobiographical of Irving himself. A great read.
Sep 16, 2008
Beware the Under Toad
An intricate, intimate and, at times, tedious examination of the life of a young, anxious writer. Little is left to the imagination as Mr. Irving covers the entire life and career of T.S. Garp?from conception to last breath?going so far as to include short stories and chapter excerpts from the character?s work (fictional fiction).
All of Mr. Irving?s familiar themes are here including strong feminist women, lust, single parenting, New England prep schools and sudden tragedy. The novel, however, is loose and sprawling. Both A Prayer for Owen Meaney and The Cider House Rules are more developed, better plotted novels. If you?re new to Irving, you should start there even though Garp is better known.
Jul 21, 2008
This is one of my favorite books. It has amazing characterization and it will always be a classic.
Apr 5, 2007
Cliches and Lust
As I read on the beach, people would wander up and ask if I was enjoying the book. I had no real answer. Irving puts forth that it is a book about lust and he is right. Life can be described as a competition of lusts (there are beneficial lusts, afterall), but there was far too much sexual lust for my taste. I still read it cover to cover. I can't quite explain why, but I know the answer lies with Garp... and Jenny and Helen and, appropriately, Jillsy. John Irving has created characters that stay with you. They make sense in their extremes. They are the salt of the earth and are caricatures. You will grow so attached to them that you will feel genuine disappointment at their mistakes and heartache at their hurts. I didn't realize how wonderfully constructed the characters were until it was time to give them up.
Irving pulls no punches, so know that anything can happen once you pick up this book. Be willing to be appalled, challenged, inspired and left without answers. Perhaps the only commercial part of the book is that there is an epilogue. The answers that you are left without are the ones that arise within you when you have laid the book aside. I hate to use the old cliche, but it happens. Garp turns your insides around and, once it is over, you are left to ask some hard questions. I don't know how, but John Irving does that every time. That is why this review is not about his writing, but about his ideas. His writing is top-of-the-line. The story catches you before you know it. That is what he does. You don't need this review to know that.
Did I like it? I'm still not sure. I know that I am not ready to trade in my copy to the used bookstore. I think it will remain in my collection for some time.
(A small recommendation goes to those of you who have not read any other books by John Irving. Read "A Prayer for Owen Meany," then read this. Owen is a gentler beginning than Garp.)
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