Book of the week: The World According the Garp

***** – A must-read for any person who dreams, or has ever dreamt, of writing

At first glance John Irving’s most famous literary accomplishment may dismay the half-hearted reader. Its 600 pages make the novel it an intimidating size. But rest assured the book is still a wise investment – even if you don’t enjoy it (you Philistine) the text can be left on the table by your front door and used to flatten any unsuspecting burglar for years to come.

The World According to Garp is a slippery fish to describe but I will try and do it justice for you. The text is both simple in plot and impressively vivid and twisted in detail. The narrator guides you through the life of the lead character as he tries, with varied success, to develop into a writer. Included in his story are copies of his early work as he tries to woo his would-be girlfriend and later literary attempts as Garp struggles to come to terms with the violent death of a close relative.

At the same time you are given a myriad of other information, sewn into the plot like colour in the Bayeux Tapestry. For example, you quickly learn that Garp was conceived almost without male involvement. His father, ruined mentally by his time in the air force, is found in the hospital by Garp’s mother, a young nurse who uses the air soldier as a kind of ammo to give her a baby. Equally strangely, Garp’s best friend Roberta struggles with her sexuality throughout her life and turns out to have been born a man and previously achieved notoriety as an American football star.

The novel is full of these five-dimensional characters – conspicuously imaginary in their conception but quietly believable in their actions. Painfully funny and painfully sad scenes from the book have remained with me since reading it – the Undertoad, the Ellen Jamesians and the bear with the unicycle. Most of all, the reader is privileged to know Garp – no sex scene, run, argument, memorial, Viennese city left undescribed. His struggle to become a writer is told without a hint of pretentiousness from a man who obviously has mastered the skill and has the power to enthuse any reader towards it too.

Advertisements

One Response to “Book of the week: The World According the Garp”

  1. Wit Ackman Says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed it. I loved it too.

    Looking forward to future book reviews

    : )

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: