The World According to Garp

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Overview

The World According to Garp is a comic and compassionate coming-of-age novel that established John Irving as one of the most imaginative writers of his generation. A worldwide bestseller since its publication in 1978, Irving's classic is filled with stories inside stories about the life and times of T. S. Garp, novelist and bastard son of Jenny Fields - a feminist leader ahead of her time. Beyond that, The World According to Garp virtually defies synopsis.

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Overview

The World According to Garp is a comic and compassionate coming-of-age novel that established John Irving as one of the most imaginative writers of his generation. A worldwide bestseller since its publication in 1978, Irving's classic is filled with stories inside stories about the life and times of T. S. Garp, novelist and bastard son of Jenny Fields - a feminist leader ahead of her time. Beyond that, The World According to Garp virtually defies synopsis.

Winner of the 1980 National Book Award

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
"In the world according to Garp, we're all terminal cases." This sentence ends both Irving's comic and tragic novel and its wonderful audio adaptation, read disarmingly by Michael Prichard. We hear the familiar story of T.S. Garp; his mother, Jenny Fields; and Garp's wife, family, friends, and lovers. We also see Garp's efforts to establish himself as a serious author and his involvement in sexual politics. In contrast, Jenny's memoirs establish her as a feminist leader. This work is funny, sexual, serious, and sad. Prichard's narration adds a wonderful dimension to the story. Plus, Irving opens with a terrific introduction to mark the novel's 20th anniversary. This wise and unique tale is as fresh today as it was when first published in 1978. Obviously, a required purchase for all audio collections and required listening for all Irving fans. Irving's A Son of the Circus, Audio Reviews, LJ 12/94 new novel echoes Garp through tracing the complicated life of novelist Ruth Cole. Divided into three parts, the book views Ruth's life and relationships at age four in 1958, age 36 in 1990, and age 41 in 1995. In the first part, Ruth's mother, devastated by the loss of two sons, leaves her daughter and womanizing husband after a brief love affair with a teenage boy. Part 2 focuses on Ruth's book tour in Europe while coming to grips with a poor love life and considering marriage to an older man. Part 3 traces Ruth's short widowhood and her marriage to the Dutch policeman who solves the murder to which she was a witness. Like Garp, this is a complex, sad, and quite compelling tale. Narrator George Guidall's reading adds to the texture of the story. And like the audio adaptation of Garp, this wonderful novel is a required purchase for all audio collections.--Stephen L. Hupp, Univ. of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Lib., PA
From the Publisher
“The most powerful and profound novel about women written by a man in our generation . . . Like all extraordinary books, Garp defies synopsis. . . . A marvelous, important, permanent novel by a serious artist of remarkable powers.”—Chicago Sun-Times

“Nothing in contemporary fiction matches it. . . . Irving’s blend of gravity and play is unique, audacious, almost blasphemous. . . . Brilliant, funny, and consistently wise; a work of vast talent.”—The New Republic

“A wonderful novel, full of energy and art, at once funny and horrifying and heartbreaking.”—Washington Post

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345366764
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/28/1990
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Edition number: 20
  • Pages: 624
  • Sales rank: 83,523
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

John Irving

John Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times–winning once, in 1980, for the novel The World According to Garp. A Prayer for Owen Meany was published in 1989. In 1992, Mr. Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 2000, he won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules–a film with seven Academy Award nominations.

Biography

It was as a struggling, withdrawn student at Phillips Exeter, the New Hampshire prep school where his stepfather taught Russian history, that John Irving discovered the two great loves of his life: writing and wrestling. Modestly, he attributes his success in both endeavors to dogged perseverance. "My life in wrestling was one-eighth talent and seven-eighths discipline," he confessed in his 1996 mini-memoir The Imaginary Girlfriend. "I believe that my life as a writer consists of one-eighth talent and seven-eighths discipline, too."

Certainly, patience and stamina have served Irving well -- in both wrestling (he competed until he was 34, coached well into his 40s, and was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1992) and writing. His first book, Setting Free the Bears, was published in 1968 to respectable reviews but sold poorly. Over the course of the next ten years, he wrote two more unsuccessful novels (The Water-Method Man and The 158-Pound Marriage).

Then, in 1978, Irving hit the jackpot with The World According to Garp, a freewheeling comic saga incorporating motifs he would revisit many times over -- feminism, adultery, violence, grotesquerie, and an overriding sense of impending doom. Garp received a National Book Award nomination and became an instant cult classic. It also paved the way for a string of bestsellers, including The Hotel New Hampshire, The Cider House Rules, A Prayer for Owen Meaney, and The Fourth Hand, to name a few.

While none of his novels are strictly autobiographical, Irving has never denied that certain elements from his life have seeped into his books, most notably the pervading "presence" of his biological father, John Wallace Blunt, a man Irving never knew. Raised by his mother and a stepfather he loved dearly, Irving had denied for years any curiosity about his absent parent, but the figure of the missing father haunted his writing like a specter. In 2005, he laid the ghost to rest with the publication of Until I Find You, a searing story that took shape slowly and painfully over the better part of a decade. Writing the novel also allowed the author to wrestle with a closely guarded secret from his past -- just like the novel's protagonist Jack Burns, Irving was sexually abused as a preteen by an older woman. In an eerily timed coincidence, while he was crafting the novel, Irving was contacted by a man named Chris Blunt, who identified himself as the son of Irving's biological father. Twenty years younger than Irving, his half-brother told Irving that their father had died in 1995. Although Irving was devastated by the experience, he now feels as if he is able to turn the page and move on.

In addition to his novels, Irving has also written a collection of short stories and essays (1995's Trying to Save Piggy Sneed) and several screenplays, including his Oscar-winning adaptation of The Cider House Rules. He chronicled the experience of bringing his novel to the screen in the 1999 memoir My Movie Business.

Good To Know

  • Irving struggled in school with a learning disability that was probably undiagnosed dyslexia. Today, he considers it something of a blessing. Forced to read slowly, he savored each word and literally fell in love with language and literature.

  • In a 2001 interview with the now-defunct Book magazine, Irving confessed, "The characters in my novels, from the very first one, are always on some quixotic effort of attempting to control something that is uncontrollable -- some element of the world that is essentially random and out of control."

  • Although the results have been mixed at best, film versions have been made of several Irving novels, including The World According to Garp, The Hotel New Hampshire, and The Cider House Rules, which won for Irving a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. In addition, the movie Simon Birch was loosely based on A Prayer for Owen Meaney, and the first third of Irving's novel A Widow for One Year became the acclaimed film The Door in the Floor.

  • One of Irving's great literary influences was Kurt Vonnegut, his teacher and mentor at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. The two writers remained close friends until Vonnegut's death in 2007.

  • Irving has two tattoos: a maple leaf (in honor of his Canadian wife) on his left shoulder, and the starting circle of a wrestling match on his right forearm.

  • The influence of Charles Dickens is evident in Irving's novels, sprawling epics with huge casts of colorful, eccentric characters and lots of complex plot points that crop up, disappear for hundreds of pages, then resurface unexpectedly. He writes voluminously and in great detail; he refuses to use a computer; and he begins at the end, writing the last sentence of each novel first. He describes himself as a craftsman and claims that he owes his success more to rewrites, ruthless editing, and infinite patience than to artistic genius.

  • Read More Show Less
      1. Also Known As:
        John Wallace Blunt, Jr.
      2. Hometown:
        Vermont
      1. Date of Birth:
        March 2, 1942
      2. Place of Birth:
        Exeter, New Hampshire
      1. Education:
        B.A., University of New Hampshire, 1965; also studied at University of Vienna; M.F.A., Iowa Writers' Workshop, 1967

    Read an Excerpt

    Chapter One - Boston Mercy

    Garp's mother, Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston in 1942 for wounding a man in a movie theater. This was shortly after the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and people were being tolerant of soldiers, because suddenly everyone was a soldier, but Jenny Fields was quite firm in her intolerance of the behavior of men in general and soldiers in particular. In the movie theater she had to move three times, but each time the soldier moved closer to her until she was sitting against the musty wall, her view of the newsreel almost blocked by some silly colonnade, and she resolved she would not get up and move again. The soldier moved once more and sat beside her.

    Jenny was twenty-two. She had dropped out of college almost as soon as she'd begun, but she had finished her nursing-school program at the head of her class and se enjoyed being a nurse. She was an athletic-looking young woman who always had high color in her cheeks; she had dark, glossy hair and what her mother called a mannish way of walking (she swung her arms), and her rump and hips were so slender and hard that, from behind, she resembled a young boy. In Jenny's opinion, her breasts were too large; she thought the ostentation of her bust made her look "cheap and easy."

    She was nothing of the kind. In fact, she had dropped out of college when she suspected that the chief purpose of her parents' sending her to Wellesley had been to have her dated by and eventually mated to some well-bred man. The recommendation of Wellesley had come from her older brothers, who had assured her parents that Wellesley women were not thought of loosely and were considered high in marriage potential.Jenny felt that her education was merely a polite was to bide time, as if she were really a cow, being prepared only for the insertion of the device for artificial insemination.

    Her declared major had been English literature, but when it seemed to her that her classmates were chiefly concerned with acquiring the sophistication and poise to deal with men, she had no trouble leaving literature for nursing. She saw nursing as something that could be put into immediate practice, and its study had no ulterior motive that Jenny could see (later she wrote, in her famous autobiography, that too many nurses put themselves on display for too many doctors; but then her nursing days were over).

    She liked the simple, no-nonsense uniform; the blouse of the dress made less of her breasts; the shoes were comfortable, and suited to her fast pace of walking. When she was at the night desk, she could still read. She did not miss the young college men, who were sulky and disappointed if you wouldn't compromise yourself, and superior and aloof it you would. At the hospital she saw more soldiers and working boys than college men, and they were franker and less pretentious in their expectations; if you compromised yourself a little, they seemed at least grateful to see you again. Then, suddenly, everyone was a soldier—and full of the self-importance of college boys—and Jenny Fields stopped having anything to do with men.

    "My mother," Garp wrote, "was a lone wolf."


    —There was a popular joke among the nurses in Boston at that time, but it was not funny to Jenny Fields. The joke involved the other hospitals in Boston. The hospital Jenny worked in was Boston Mercy Hospital, which was called Boston Mercy; there was also Massachusetts General Hospital, which was called Mass General. And another hospital was the Peter Bent Brigham, which was called the Peter Bent.

    One day, the joke goes, a Boston cab driver had his taxi hailed by a man who staggered off the curb toward him, almost dropping to his knees in the street. The man was purple in the face with pain; he was either strangling or holding his breath, so that talking was difficult for him, and the cabby opened the door and helped him inside, where the man lay face down on the floor alongside the back seat, tucking his knees up to his chest.

    "Hospital! Hospital!" he cried.

    "The Peter Bent?" the cabby asked. That was the closest hospital.

    "It's worse than bent," the man moaned. "I think Molly bit it off!"

    Few jokes were funny to Jenny Fields, and certainly not this one; no peter jokes for Jenny, who was staying clear of the issue. She had seen the trouble peters could get into; babies were not the worst of it. Of course she saw people who didn't want to have babies, and they were sad that they were pregnant; they shouldn't have to have babies, Jenny thought—though she mainly felt sorry for the babies who were born. She saw people who wanted to have babies, too, and they made her want to have one. One day, Jenny Fields though, she would like to have a baby—just one. But the trouble was that she wanted as little to do with a peter as possible, and nothing whatsoever to do with a man.

    Most peter treatment Jenny saw was done to soldiers. The U.S. Army would not begin to benefit from the discovery of penicillin until 1943, and there were many soldiers who didn't get penicillin until 1945. At Boston Mercy, in the early days of 1942, peters were usually treated with sulfa and arsenic. Sulfathiazole was for the clap—with lots of water recommended. For syphilis, in the days before penicillin, they used neoarsphenamine; Jenny Fields thought that this was the epitome of all that sex could lead to—to introduce arsenic into the human chemistry, to try to clean the chemistry up.

    The other peter treatment was local and also required a lot of fluid. Jenny frequently assisted with this method of disinfecting, because the patient required lots of attention at the time; sometimes, in fact, he needed to be held. It was a simple procedure that could force as much as one hundred cc's of fluid up the penis and through the surprised urethra before it all came back, but the procedure left everyone feeling a bit raw. The man who invented a device for this method of treatment was named Valentine, and his device was called the Valentine irrigator. Long after Dr. Valentine's irrigator was improved, or replaced with another irrigation device, the nurses at Boston Mercy still referred to the procedure as the Valentine treatment—an appropriate punishment for a lover, thought Jenny Fields.

    "My mother," Garp wrote, "was not romantically inclined."


    When the soldier in the movie theater first started changing seats—when he made his first move on her-Jenny Fields felt that the Valentine treatment would be just the thing for him. But she didn't have an irrigator with her; it was much too large for her purse. It also required the considerable cooperation of the patient. What she did have with her was a scalpel; she carried it with her all the time. She had not stolen it from surgery, either; it was a castaway scalpel with a deep nick taken out of the point (it had probably been dropped on the floor, or in a sink)—it was no good for fine work, but it was not for fine work that Jenny wanted it.

    At first it had slashed up the little silk pockets of her purse. Then she found part of an old thermometer container that slipped over the head of the scalpel, capping it like a fountain pen. It was this cap she removed when the soldier moved into the seat beside her and stretched his arm along the armrest they were (absurdly) meant to share. His long hand dangled off the end of the armrest; it twitched like the flank of a horse shuddering flies away. Jenny kept her hand on the scalpel inside her purse; with her other hand, she held the purse tightly in her white lap. She was imagining that her nurse's uniform shone like a holy shield, and for some perverse reason this vermin beside her had been attracted by her light.

    "My mother," Garp wrote, "went through her life on the lookout for purse-snatchers and snatch-snatchers."

    In the theater, it was not her purse that the soldier wanted. He touched her knee. Jenny spoke up fairly clearly. "Get your stinking hand off me," she said. Several people turned around.

    "Oh, come on," the soldier moaned, and his hand shot quickly under her uniform; he found her thighs locked tightly together—he found his whole arm, from his shoulder to his wrist, suddenly sliced open like a soft melon. Jenny had cut cleanly through his insignia and his shirt, cleanly through his skin and muscles, baring his bones at the joint of his elbow. ("If I'd wanted to kill him," she told the police, later, "I'd have slit his wrist. I'm a nurse. I know how people bleed.")

    The soldier screamed. On his feet and falling back, he swiped at Jenny's head with his uncut arm, boxing her ear so sharply that her head sang. She pawed at him with the scalpel, removing a piece of his upper lip the approximate shape and thinness of a thumbnail. (I was not trying to slash his throat," she told the police, later. "I was trying to cut his nose off but I missed.")

    Crying, on all fours, the soldier groped his way to the theater aisle and headed toward the safety of the light in the lobby. Someone else in the theater was whimpering, in fright.

    Jenny wiped her scalpel on the movie seat, returned it to her purse, and covered the blade with the thermometer cap. Then she went to the lobby, where keen wailings could be heard and the manager was calling through the lobby doors over the dark audience, "Is there a doctor here? Please! Is someone a doctor?"

    Someone was a nurse, and she went to lend what assistance she could. When the soldier saw her, he fainted; it was not really from loss of blood. Jenny knew how facial wounds bled; they were deceptive. The deeper gash on his arm was of course in need of immediate attention, but the soldier was not bleeding to death. No one but Jenny seemed to know that—there was so much blood, and so much of it was on her white nurse's uniform. They quickly realized she had done it. The theater lackeys would not let her touch the fainted soldier, and someone took her purse from her. The mad nurse! The crazed slasher! Jenny Fields was calm. She thought it was only a matter of waiting for the true authorities to comprehend the situation. But the police were not very nice to her, either.


    From the Paperback edition.

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    First Chapter

    BOSTON MERCY

    Garp's mother Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston in 1942 for wounding a man in a movie theater. This was shortly after the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and people were being tolerant of soldiers, because suddenly everyone was a soldier, but jenny Fields was quite firm in her intolerance of the behavior of men in general and soldiers in particular. In the movie theater she had to move three times, but each time the soldier moved closer to her until she was sitting against the musty wall, her view of the newsreel almost blocked by some silly colonnade, and she resolved she would not get up and move again. The soldier moved once more and sat beside her.

    jenny was twenty-two. She had dropped out of college almost as soon as she'd begun, but she had finished her nursing-school program at the head of her class and she enjoyed being a nurse. She was an athletic-looking young woman who always had high color in her cheeks; she had dark, glossy hair and what her mother called a mannish way of walking (she swung her arms), and her rump and hips were so slender and hard that, from behind, she resembled a young boy. In jenny's opinion, her breasts were too large; she thought the ostentation of her bust made her look "cheap and easy."

    She was nothing of the kind. In fact, she had dropped out of college when she suspected that the chief purpose of her parents' sending her to Wellesley had been to have her dated by and eventually mated to some well-bred man. The recommendation of Wellesley had come from her older brothers, who had assured her parents that Wellesley women were not thought of loosely and were considered high in marriage potential. jennyfelt that her education was merely a polite way to bide time, as if she were really a cow, being prepared only for the insertion of the device for artificial insemination.

    Her declared major had been English literature, but when it seemed to her that her classmates were chiefly concerned with acquiring the sophistication and the poise to deal with men, she had no trouble leaving literature for nursing. She saw nursing as something that could be put into immediate practice, and its study had no ulterior motive that jenny could see (later she wrote, in her famous autobiography, that too many nurses put themselves on display for too many doctors; but then her nursing days were over).

    She liked the simple, no-nonsense uniform; the blouse of the dress made less of her breasts; the shoes were comfortable, and suited to her fast pace of walking. When she was at the night desk, she could still read. She did not miss the young college men, who were sulky and disappointed if you wouldn't compromise yourself, and superior and aloof if you would. At the hospital she saw more soldiers and working boys than college men, and they were franker and less pretentious in their expectations; if you compromised yourself a little, they seemed at least grateful to see you again. Then, suddenly, everyone was a soldier-and full of the self-importance of college boys-and jenny Fields stopped having anything to do with men. "My mother," Garp wrote, "was a lone wolf."
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    Reading Group Guide

    1. In the preceding essay, John Irving writes about his frustration in trying to determine what The World According to Garp is about. He finally accepts his young son's conclusion: "The fear of death or the death of children—or of anyone you love." In your opinion, is this the most overt theme of the novel?

    2. Feminism comes in many flavors in the novel. The most obvious, perhaps, are Jenny Field's straightforward brand of feminism, Ellen Jamesian's embittered, victimized type, and Roberta Muldoon's nurturing, female-embracing style. But are there other characters who portray less distinct, murkier shades of feminism? What is feminism in the lives of Helen Holm, Charlotte the prostitute, Mrs. Ralph, and other women in the novel? And what does feminism mean to Garp?

    3. How does The World According to Garp ultimately assess the prospects of understanding between the sexes? Support your opinion with examples from the novel.

    4. In the novel, we read about a variety of biographers' theories on why Garp stopped writing—and what motivated him to write again—albeit for a very short-lived time. Helen agreed that Garp's collision with his own mortality brought him back to his craft. If you were the biographer of T. S. Garp, what would your theory be?

    5. Garp's vehemence against "political true believers" is a major force of the novel and he maintains that they are the sworn enemy of the artist. The Ellen Jamesians are a farcical portrayal of this notion. In your opinion, what is the relationship between art and politics—and is it possible for them to successfully coexist?

    6. After the terrible accident inwhich Duncan is maimed, many pages pass before Walt's death is acknowledged to the reader. And then, it is given a tragic-comedic twist; Garp announces in an Alice Fletcher-like lisp that he "mish him." What was the effect of this narrative device on you? Was the sorrow intensified or assuaged?

    7. The narrator's voice is ironically detached and almost flippant—even when delivering the most emotionally charged, heartbreaking moments in the novel. In what ways does the narrator contrast and play against the novel's dramatic elements? How is it similar—and different—from the voice of Garp?

    8. People who have read and loved The World According to Garp consistently comment on the extraordinary ability of the novel to provoke laughter and tears simultaneously. Was this your experience as well? If so, how do you think this effect is achieved?

    9. What is the significance of the meta-fiction—the stories within the story? How does Garp's "writing" voice compare to our perception of him as a character?

    10. Over the last fifteen years The World According to Garp has entered the canon of literature. How do you think it is perceived now in comparison to when it was first published in the late '70s? Is the American moral center much different today than it was then? For example, despite Garp's and Helen's indiscretions, their relationship is still portrayed as loving and supportive. Do you think that today's social climate is as accepting of these kind of transgressions?

    11. In his afterword, John Irving admits to having been "positively ashamed of how much lust was in the book. Indeed, every character in the story who indulges his or her lust is severely punished." How do you feel about that condemnation? Is the world an arguably more precarious place because of lust?

    12. What do the peripheral characters contribute to the novel? Is there a common thread they share . . . Mrs. Ralph, the young hippie, Dean Bodger, Ernie Holm, "Old Tinch, " the Fletchers?

    13. The World According to Garp has been heralded as a literary masterpiece while at the same time enjoying phenomenal commercial success--a rare feat for a novel. What are the elements of high literary merit in the novel? Likewise, what aspects of the book land it squarely into the mainstream consciousness? In your opinion, how is this balance achieved?

    14. Have you read any other John Irving novels? If so, did you find any similarities between them in style or tone?

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    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4.5
    ( 99 )
    Rating Distribution

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    (18)

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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 99 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted August 30, 2006

      A story built upon true character...

      This was my first John Irving book. When I first started, the book seemed a bit crowded with detail that seemed to slow the story down, but the style of the writing was not what made me a fan of the book. It was the characters that sold me. To me, the story was about how people define themselves. What events make us who we are, and how the goals we set for ourselves help shape what we become. Garp is a writer who is always striving to create his greatest work. Ironically, the story that gains the most notoriety is the one written when he was at his most innocent in life, his first. Life can hinder the imagination because we relate life experience to our storytelling. It fashions how we see and interpret things. Admittedly, some of these characters are extremes, but you have to appreciate the irony and humor of Jenny, a woman whose misinterpreted independence turns her into a pivotal player in the feminist movement. Each character is defined by the choices they make, the paths they lead. Although it is not the most upbeat ending I've ever read, the power of the book shows how different events have such dramatically different consequences on each person. The roles of sexuality, greatness and political correctness, family, and marriage are all explored in very real and graphic ways. By following each character to their end (literally) you can appreciate how the cycle of life continues and how each character left their mark on those around them. By the end of the book, you can't help but feel sorry to see this eccentric cast of characters go. A good read.

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted June 15, 2011

      more from this reviewer

      I Also Recommend:

      Wonderful

      I just finished reading this novel and it has become one of my favorites. John Irving is such a fantastic writer. T.S. Garp and Jenny Fields are two of the greatest characters ever written and the story is original, funny, heartbreaking, sad and, at times, horrible. I enjoyed every word. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves novels because this is a novel written for the reader.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted April 1, 2010

      The Perfect Novel

      I've been a fan of John Irving since I read "A Widow for One Year" several years back. I decided to visit this story as it was his most famous and I recalled it being studied in my high school, although I was not in that class. If I had to choose I would say it is the best book I've ever read. The themes of life, death, gender identity, sexism, sexuality, human neuroses, marriage and family are so deftly woven into the perfect "dramady" of a story, I cannot imagine any other book coming close. That you can simultaneously identify with every single character at some point in the book (even if you previously hated them, and vice versa) is only testament to the most overriding theme of all- the world and the characters in it are ever-changing with our ever-changing perspective. As Garp's world view evolves we see that what was once ridiculous is now wholly understandable, what was once noble and beautiful, is now a silly outdated sentiment. Death is the ultimate equalizer, and hence the main theme. If we are all terminal cases, we have far more in common than we realize.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted February 7, 2008

      A Good Read

      Never in my life have I read a book like The World According to Garp, though luckily that¿s a good thing. John Irving really delivers in this book, even if its not heart stopping on the edge of your seat reading material, but it is a clever and accurate take on life through fictional characters 'although I wouldn't be surprised if they weren't, from the way Irving so deeply develops them it is hard to tell'. The main bulk of The World According to Garp is about Garp from the fetus to his death bed with chapters or sections here and there about his mother or one of their stories. The book begins with Garp¿s mother being arrested for cutting a soldier in a movie theater and unfortunately that¿s as interesting as the beginning with Garp¿s mother gets. Garp¿s mother is a very unemotional piece of work before she has Garp and she tend to not understand many children can understand due to her sheltered and loveless life and yet she¿s not unhappy about it. To me the book drags on and is a little awkward in places until Garp¿s birth, but its well worth it to read through it. Once Garp is born you really receive the full potential of Irving¿s writing because after he¿s born Irving portrays every emotion through the book phenomenally well and you really feel each and every emotion like its your own. Another thing I really loved about The World According to Garp was the book¿s tone. The books satirical and a little sarcastic tone really put this book on another level for me. I had never before laughed when reading a book until now, even in books that have tried to be funny I had never laughed, but The World According to Garp just communicated to me on such a level that I really laughed for the right reasons on many, many parts of the book. Overall, I really recommend this book because its pros well outweigh its cons, its clever, its funny, and it¿s an all around a good book. Although it will not be a suitable book for some ages due to its very mature content throughout parts of the book, in the form of curse words, sex scenes, and other R rated debauchery.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted August 21, 2007

      You'll want to read it again someday

      Almost Dickensian in its breadth and scope, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP is likely to rank among American literature's classics of the 1970s. Through the characters of Garp, his family and the eccentrics they encounter, Irving makes readers laugh and cry at the beauty and pathos of human existence. Save your copy. You'll want to read it again someday.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 11, 2006

      It's made it onto my Top 5..

      This book has EVERYTHING. You'll laugh, you'll ache, you'll feel moved.. read it!! NOTHING is forced, the characters are SO REAL, it's surprisingly witty, sad, just EVERYTHING. It's genius.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted September 29, 2004

      Quite a read

      I read quite a bit of fiction and I really like Irving's style. He is a very honest author, telling you the truth of what it would be like to be in the character's shoes. I think that the graphic sections of the book were not too much, but came very close to the edge - which I liked. I need to be shocked and this book did it while keeping the characters real. My only complaint: it moved a little slow.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted August 7, 2002

      How can you not love it?

      I absolutely loved this book, and I was shocked to see that it only had a four star rating. So I read all the reviews, and I found that people that didn't like were offend by the sexual content. Guess what people, sex is a big part of life!!!!! Especially for happily married people. Sex is not offensive, it just is. Get real people.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted April 22, 2002

      The book is so real...amazing!

      I wasn't too enthusiastic after the first 4 chapters. Then I thought Garp and his mother would be trapped forever in Vienna, and nothing too special would ever occur in their lives. And all of a sudden, I could not let it out of my hands. It's pulsating with life, with the real life most of us experience every day. At the same time, it makes you think whether you want to be Garp, to be able to feel like Garp...I am not sure I have fully understood him, a re-reading of the book is definitely imposed.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted August 8, 2001

      Best Book I've Ever Read!

      This book is absolutely amazing! I couldn't put it down!

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted June 7, 2012

      I Also Recommend:

      One of of my all-time favorites book written by one of my favori

      One of of my all-time favorites book written by one of my favorite authors! Irving really takes the time to develop his characters within the story. It is obvious that he is extremely meticulous in his method, and it shines brilliantly in "Garp." None of Irving's characters in this book are without flaws, and that is what makes them so relatable and believable. Irving's stories are truly about life: how we adapt to change, how we overcome adversity, and even how we fail to measure up to our own expectations. Read it...you will fall in love...

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 17, 2012

      Highly Recommended

      Mature adults only. Difficult to understand first few chapters but if you stick it out, you will love it! Very moving! The ending is unexpected and really good!

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    • Posted February 19, 2012

      Highly recommended

      I have never been disappointed when ordering from Barns & Noble.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted August 23, 2011

      A Must Read

      The World According To Garp is the type of novel that you simply don't want to end, but can't turn the pages fast enough. Hilariously funny, brutally honest, and amazingly observant, John Irving is everything a reader could ask of an author and more. If you are looking for a good read and haven't yet checked out Garp, you must do so immediately.

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    • Posted April 30, 2011

      Strongly Recommended

      The World According to Garp by John Irving is a novel full of emotion, both good and bad. It contains elements of humor, despair, and romance. This book tells the story of T.S. Garp and his experiences throughout his life and allows the reader to enter into his world. I would reccommend this book to an older audience, because there is some bad language used and also some scenes of sensuality. The title of this book is perfect because it tells you exactly what the book is about- the world according to Garp. Throughout the book, the reader hasa the opportunity to read some of Garp's stories and to see how he grows as a writer. This is interesting because we can see that as he grows older, his books become more about his own life and less about fictious people.These stories are probably the most interesting and exciting parts of the book, for me anyway. The author, John Irving, does a wonderful job in creating unique characters that add a lot to Garp's life. He allows the reader to see how their lives are and doesn't always focus on Garp, especially at the end of the novel. The ending, although sad, provides an insight at what the world is really about.

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    • Posted December 9, 2010

      I Also Recommend:

      A strange and disturbing story

      I remember reading Garp in college. A professor of mine mentioned that he saw me reading it and that he found it to be a grotesque novel, what with women cutting off their tongues and such. I agree. It has a certain grotesqueness about it, but it doesn't seem all that far-fetched to me. There are plenty of people mutilating their bodies in contemporary society, often for less compelling reasons. I think the most troubling thing about the novel is that almost every woman in it is incapble of functioning in the world. I don't know many women like the ones drawn in this story, if any. It seems somehow...wrong.

      But it is an interesting read. Worth trying.

      0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted February 22, 2010

      more from this reviewer

      Too Wordy

      I just can't get past all of Irving's secondary and tertiary stories.

      0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted February 5, 2010

      I Also Recommend:

      One of the best

      It's John Irving - what can I say. Second only to Cider House and Owen Meany. Who else would write two complete short stories embedded in his novel! I did a 10-page paper comparing Meany to it's movie rendition, Simon Birch. Researched Irving extensively and I have to say, he's quite an interesting character. He also gave tips on how he goes about composing a novel.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 14, 2008

      Perfect

      I loved the World According to Garp. I am a sophomore in college, but my freshman Lit Composition teacher recommended it to my class. I am so grateful to her. This has been my favorite book I've ever read. Irving truly makes you care about his characters and their lives. He talks about every aspect of humanity and our relationships, from Jenny's confused outlook on lust to the intense love that Garp and Helen share and the parental love they find in their heart for Ellen. This is an amazing read, it is hard to put down and it provides a beautiful glimpse of humanity.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted February 7, 2008

      Irving provides a fairly good read, hard to put down

      Irving's novel, The World According to Garp provides a thrilling, hard-to-put-down read for mature audiences. The book is very likable, and keeps you coming back for more! Irving builds deep, rich characters who are able to believably interact with each other. I really liked the book in the fact that it had multiple stories within stories. Via Garp's writing, the reader gains perspective into his emotions and his style of coping with all of the events in his life. I would definately recommend this book to people who are not easily offended based on grounds of language or sexual content.

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