Heather L, September 30, 2011 (view all comments by Heather L)
The World According to Garp--first published in 1978 and the book for which John Irving won a National Book Award in 1980--now holds a spot on my list of favorite books, and Irving is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. He is an incredible storyteller; in my opinion, one of the best. Speaking through Garp, Irving says, “…a writer’s job is to imagine everything so personally that the fiction is as vivid as our personal memories.” Irving has definitely accomplished that with The World According to Garp. The first half of this book made me laugh out loud numerous times (sometimes for very inappropriate reasons), while the second half of the book had me in tears or gasping in sad disbelief numerous times. I went from one extreme to the other on the spectrum of feelings--and experienced every emotion in between--all within 437 pages. Now that’s a sign of good storytelling. This is one sensational story.
broncosfan203, July 25, 2008 (view all comments by broncosfan203)
This book is fantastic. Irving deftly mixes humor with tragedy. His skill in undeniable. It is evident in every sentence. He possesses the ablility to make the reader laugh and cry within the same scene. Superbly written and universally meaningful, you cannot go wrong with The World According to Garp.
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damon, August 10, 2006 (view all comments by damon)
This book came to me on a very strong recommendation from someone whose opinion I trust. Needless to say, I expected quite a bit from this book. Irving's talent cannot be debated. His skill is apparent on every page, if not in every paragraph and every sentence. The novel suffers, in my mind, from a couple of flaws that prevent it from being a great novel. The first offense is personal. Irving seems to have great fun within the book. It is not that I am opposed to fun, but some of the novelty of characters and events does not charm me as it might others. The second issue I take with the book may come from the fact that might focus lately has been on the short story. Garp seems to wander extremely. If we were to pull out the skeleton of the novel, lay the whole think out in outline form, I think we'd find that it is a very uneven novel. From the time we spend before Garp's birth, then his youth, to then the jump to his family and subsequent tragedy, another jump and new characters, and then more tragedy and death. The structure here does not pull us along with anything more than one central, albeit vibrant, character. I do not wish to limit the range of the novel, but to simply rein things in some might have helped this reader draw more from it.
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by The Washington Post,
"A wonderful novel, full of energy and art."
by The New Republic,
"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."
by Chicago Sun-Times,
"The most powerful and profound novel about women written by a man in our generation.... A marvelous, important, permanent novel by a serious artist of remarkable powers."
by The Los Angeles Times,
"Absolutely extraordinary... Passionate, imaginative, daring... a world of laughter and violence, exhilaration and heartbreak, love and hate.... It is the best novel I have read in years."
by Publishers Weekly,
"Superb... It is not easy to find the words to convey the joy, the excitement, the passion... The imagination soars as Irving draws us inexorably into Garp's world....Swirling around Garp and his family are some of the most colorful characters in recent fiction."
"Brilliant....Like all great works of art, Irving's novel seems always to have been there, a diamond sleeping in the dark, shipped out at last for our enrichment and delight."
by Pittsburgh Press,
"Overwhelming... funny and serious, absurd and realistic, fast-moving and thoughtful....Buy two copies; you'll wear out the first with rereading."
by The Observer (London),
"A social tragic-comedy of such velocity and hilarity that it reads rather like a domestic sequel to Catch-22."
This is the life and times of T. S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields, a feminist leader ahead of her time. This is 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. In more than thirty languages, in more than forty countries — with more than ten million copies in print — this novel 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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