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The World According to Garp by John Irving

The World According to Garp (1978)

by John Irving

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,478157193 (4.09)326
  1. 151
    A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (dele2451)
    dele2451: Garp and Owen would make a great literary double feature. I wish I didn't have to wait so many years between reading both of these wonderful books.
  2. 60
    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (alzo)
  3. 41
    White Teeth by Zadie Smith (sipthereader)
  4. 31
    Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut (soffitta1)
    soffitta1: Both are left-field, with overlap in themes.
  5. 10
    She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb (shesinplainview)
  6. 21
    A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz (Rynooo)

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» See also 326 mentions

English (142)  French (3)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (3)  German (1)  Tagalog (1)  Swedish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (157)
Showing 1-5 of 142 (next | show all)
I had just finished reading A Confederacy of Dunces and I was looking for another classic to read, but my to-read list is longer than my lifespan. I needed help narrowing down my options, so I asked a librarian friend for recommendations because I knew he had read a lot of classics. This was one of the books he recommended and it turned out to be a great read!

This book has everything — a great story, wonderful writing and storytelling, and characters that you care about. Sometimes John Irving had these beautiful, complex sentences with coordinating or subordinating clauses. I love it when an author focuses on the art of writing instead of focusing on the art of writing crappy bestsellers. The World According to Garp also has sexual content and violence (war injuries, rape, car accidents, etc.) if you like that sort of thing.

Garp is a writer (as well as his mother Jenny Fields), so John Irving included a lot of Garp's own writing. It's interesting to see how Irving develops Garp's distinct writing style, so it's a writing style within a writing style.

By the way, I think it's sick how Jenny Fields conceives Garp.

What I also loved about this book was all of the references to other classics such as books from Homer, Woolf, Conrad, Twain, Melville, Dickens, Hemingway and Dostoyevsky. I especially enjoyed Garp's discussion with Mrs. Ralph about Dostoyevsky's The Eternal Husband. I've never read it, but after reading their discussion about it, I'm intrigued. Garp described the book as "a wonderful story," "neatly complicated," with "complex characters." Mrs. Ralph described it as "a sick story" and "His women are less than objects. They don't even have a shape. They're just ideas that men talk about and play with." Now I want to find out who is correct.

I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a great classic. ( )
  JennysBookBag.com | Sep 28, 2016 |
Very weird but interesting ( )
  Gary_Power | Jul 10, 2016 |
Added because I just remembered reading this back in the day. ( )
  libgirl69 | Jun 13, 2016 |
After I saw the movie I had to read this. Impressive. A bit high on the yuck factor, a bit too much whining and neuroticism from some characters, and some stuff I didn't really understand, but I liked this well enough to keep going with Irving for a little while.

(I liked/understood A Prayer for Owen Meany almost as much, was frustrated by Hotel New Hampshire, and gave up on Cider House Rules.) ( )
1 vote Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Reread. Audible-- after note by John irving especially interesting.
  akh3966 | May 12, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 142 (next | show all)
The World According to Garp was more than single, memorable moments. It was unforgettable as a whole for a simple reason - it was epic. It was what a Great American Novel needs to be: all of life between covers.
These things oughtn't to be funny. Still, the way that Mr. Irving writes about them, they are. They way he filters them through his hero's unique imagination, we not only laugh at the world according to Garp, but we also accept it and love it.

» Add other authors (38 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Irvingprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Paolini, Pier FrancescoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Garp's mother, Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston in 1942 for wounding a man in a movie theater.
people who have problems do not, as a rule, think their problems are "funny."
I have nothing but sympathy for how people behave--and nothing but laughter to console them with.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 034536676X, Mass Market Paperback)

"Garp was a natural storyteller," says the narrator of John Irving's incandescent novel, referring to the book's hero, the novelist Garp, who has much in common with Irving himself. "He could make things up one right after the other, and they seemed to fit."

Irving packs wild characters and weird events into his classic--officially recognized as such in a Modern Library edition with a new introduction by the author--while amazingly maintaining the rough feel of realism in every scene and the pulse of life in every heart. Many novelists of his time might have populated a novel with a novelist protagonist whose life and books comment on each other and the novel we're reading. Transsexual football players, ball turret gunners lobotomized in battle, multiple adultery, unicycling bears, mad feminists who amputate their tongues in sympathy with the celebrated victim of a horrifying rape--Irving made them all people. Even the bear is a fitting character.

In a crucial episode, Garp's wife's seduction of a young man coincidentally occurs at the moment when Garp is delighting their young sons with a reckless car trick (one of the few scenes beautifully, eerily, heartbreakingly captured in the film version as well). Many authors would have been content with the harsh comedy of the scene, but Irving respects its integrity, and he builds the rest of the book on the consequences of the event. How does he get away with his killer cocktail of slapstick and horror? Because it's simply what we all face daily, rearranged into soul-satisfying art. "Life is an X-rated soap opera," according to Garp, and who can contradict him?

Rereading Garp 20 years later, one is struck by how elegantly Irving structures his bizarre and complex story. Take the two most celebrated bits in the book, the Under Toad and Garp's story "The Pension Grillparzer," which shimmers like an exquisite Kafkaesque insect in the amber of the novel. When Garp warns his son about the "undertow" at the beach, the boy imagines a monster out of Beowulf who lurks beneath the waves to suck you under: the "Under Toad." It's funny at first, but we soon find that the Under Toad is a metaphor with teeth--he connects with a prophetic dream of death in "The Pension Grillparzer," set in Vienna. Garp's son's last words are, "It's like a dream!" And as Irving--who studied at the University of Vienna--can certainly tell you, the German word for "death" sounds precisely like the English word "toad."

All that death, and yet Garp is mainly exuberant. This story is, as Garp's stuttering writing teacher puts it, "rich with lu-lu-lunacy and sorrow." It enriches literature, and our lives. --Tim Appelo

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:03 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The story of T.S. Garp, the bastard son of a feminist leader who is ahead of her time. A comic and compassionate coming-of-age story.

» see all 8 descriptions

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