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A Son of the Circus by John Irving

A Son of the Circus (1994)

by John Irving

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,349382,438 (3.57)56
  1. 00
    The Fourth Hand by John Irving (kpriester)
    kpriester: one of the tangents in the story continues
  2. 12
    A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (Booksloth)

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» See also 56 mentions

English (37)  Dutch (1)  All languages (38)
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
I almost bailed out after the first hundred pages of this book, and should have followed that inclination. When one keeps dozing off and dropping the book on one's foot, it's seldom a good sign.

There are, undeniably, some very funny moments here, generally based on cultural misunderstandings. The "American hippy" girl's taxicab ride into Bombay from the airport is laugh-out-loud funny, and scattered moments like this (along with Irving's gift for creating memorable characters) kept me slogging along well after any real interest in the plot fizzled out.

There's a murder mystery, and a subplot about twins separated at birth, and frequent reminders about the toilet habits of homeless people in large cities. There's a side trip through the world of "Bollywood" movies, and the existential dilemma of a man born to one culture but reared in another, who tries to maintain his balance with a foot in each.

But mostly, there are just words -- thousands of them, pouring over the defenseless reader like a tsunami. In the end, perhaps, it's best just to stay away from the literary shoreline here. ( )
  LyndaInOregon | Dec 14, 2018 |
This is another book that I had difficulty in rating. Part of me wishes to give it two stars, but I am sticking with three because I truly did enjoy the book.

This book intimidated me. I found Irving's writing dense - not in a difficult to understand way, the writing just seemed to have a weight to it. I couldn't read the book in massive sittings, but rather had to set it down, had to think, and the story did stick with me when I wasn't reading it.

I would recommend this book as an example of good technical writing. The sentences are well put together, the settings well described. The plot could have moved faster - but the pace, I think, emphasized Irving's technical skill as a writer. It is, in essence, a book about writing replete with examples.

Just try to get away from his um.. often condescending tone. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
Never finished Never cared ( )
  busterrll | Mar 1, 2017 |
Definitely a mid-list John Irving novel for me. It's not the best thing of his I've ever read, but there are some fantastic details. This was the novel he wrote right after Owen Meany, I think, so there are definitely some strong residual images and themes from that book. ( )
  beckyrenner | Dec 29, 2016 |
I loved it. But then again, I'm weird. ( )
  trezzadude | Sep 7, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Irvingprimary authorall editionscalculated
Commandeur, SjaakTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Voor Salman
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Het waren in de regel de dwergen waardoor hij steeds terugkeerde - terug naar het circus en terug naar India.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345389964, Mass Market Paperback)

--The Boston Globe
"Dr. Farrokh Daruwalla, reared in Bombay by maverick foes of tradition, educated in Vienna, married to an Austrian and long a resident of Toronto, is a 59-year-old without a country, culture or religion to call his own....The novel may not be 'about' India, but Irving's imagined India, which Daruwalla visits periodically, is a remarkable achievement--a pandemonium of servants and clubmen, dwarf clowns and transvestite whores, missionaries and movie stars. This is a land of energetic colliding egos, of modern media clashing with ancient cultures, of broken sexual boundaries."
--New York Newsday
"HIS MOST DARING AND MOST VIBRANT NOVEL...The story of circus-as-India is told with gusto and delightful irreverence."
--Bharati Mukherjee
The Washington Post Book World
"Ringmaster Irving introduces act after act, until three (or more) rings are awhirl at a lunatic pace....[He] spills characters from his imagination as agilely as improbable numbers of clowns pile out of a tiny car....His Bombay and his Indian characters are vibrant and convincing."
--The Wall Street Journal
"IRRESISTIBLE...POWERFUL...Irving's gift for dialogue shines."
--Chicago Tribune

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:25 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

An Indian-Canadian doctor returns to Bombay to seek a cure for a disease which afflicts circus dwarfs and is caught up in a serial killing of prostitutes. The action is interspersed with commentary on the lot of social misfits: prostitutes, dwarfs, himself--the doctor regarding himself a foreigner in both India and Canada.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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Average: (3.57)
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