Review of The World According to Garp by John Irving

Title:  The World According to Garp

Author:  John Irving

Publication Information:  First published in 1978

How I Got This Book:  Honestly, I don't remember where I bought it, but I know I purchased my copy.

Goodreads Synopsis: This is the life 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 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."

My Thoughts:  I really enjoyed this one, even though it took me a while to finally finish.  It's funny because I stopped in the middle of a chapter because it started to drag for me.  Several weeks later I picked it back up and within two pages it picked up and I couldn't hardly put it down.

This is my second experience with John Irving.  I read and loved The Cider House Rules back in high school.  I own two (three?) more of his novels.  A Prayer for Owen Meany will definitely be my next Irving.

Though it didn't seem like it before reading the novel, the above synopsis (which is also on the back of my copy of the book) does a pretty good job of summing up the plot.

It leaves out the hilarious and real characters that Irving creates within this novel.  They are complex.  They have layers.  They mean well and are serious, but at times sometimes totally undermines that and it's hilarious and that's how life is.

One of the main things I took away from this novel is that you should just be good and kind to folks because they're folks.  Don't judge.  Don't hold them to your own personal standards.  Help them, regardless of who they are, because they need help.  And also oftentimes you can help and support someone the most by just listening and being there.  It doesn't always take a crazy act of solidarity to show your support.

My one gripe is the last chapter, which goes through the main characters and details what happens to them.  As I read it, it felt like it dragged.  But I know if this hadn't been included, I would have been frustrated and wondered what happened.  Many of the characters met comical ends, which was kind of "eh" for me.

All in all this is a good book.  And I think I would probably read it again some day.


  1. Have you ever seen the movie? It's really quite a good adaptation. I think this might have been my first Irving book but for quirky The Hotel New Hampshire actually has it beat.


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