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"The most nourishing, satisfying novel I have read in years. I admire the hell out of it" -- Kurt Vonnegut Jr "Sensual, moving, truly remarkable" Time "Imagine a mixture of Till Eulenspiegel and Ken Kesey and you've got the range of the merry pranksters who hot-rod through Mr Irving's book, tossing flowers, stealing salt-shakers, and planning the biggest caper of their young lives" The New York Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
John Irving was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942, and he once admitted that he was a 'grim' child. Although he excelled in English at school and knew by the time he graduated that he wanted to write novels, it was not until he met a young Southern novelist named John Yount, at the University of New Hampshire, that he received encouragement. 'It was so simple,' he remembers. 'Yount was the first person to point out that anything I did except writing was going to be vaguely unsatisfying.' In 1963, Irving enrolled at the Institute of European Studies in Vienna, and he later worked as a university lecturer. His first novel, Setting Free the Bears, about a plot to release all the animals from the Vienna Zoo, was followed by The Water-Method Man, a comic tale of a man with a urinary complaint, and The 158-Pound Marriage, which exposes the complications of spouse-swapping. Irving achieved international recognition with The World According to Garp, which he hoped would 'cause a few smiles among the tough-minded and break a few softer hearts'. The Hotel New Hampshire is a startlingly original family saga, and The Cider House Rules is the story of Doctor Wilbur Larch - saint, obstetrician, founder of an orphanage, ether addict and abortionist - and of his favourite orphan, Homer Wells, who is never adopted. A Prayer for Owen Meany features the most unforgettable character Irving has yet created. A Son of the Circus is an extraordinary evocation of modern day India. He is also the author of the international bestsellers A Widow for One Year, The Fourth Hand and Until I Find You. A collection of John Irving's shorter writing, Trying to Save Piggy Sneed, was published in 1993. Irving has also written the screenplays for The Cider House Rules and A Son of the Circus, and wrote about his experiences in the world of movies in his memoir My Movie Business. Irving has had a life-long passion for wrestling, and he plays a wrestling referee in the film of The World According to Garp. In his memoir, The Imaginary Girlfriend, John Irving writes about his life as a wrestler, a novelist and as a wrestling coach. He now writes full-time, has three children and lives in Vermont and Toronto. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Not my favorite of his but I appreciated this book more after some time had passed. Although it was a bit cumbersome at the time, the book has truly stayed with me, more than... Read morePublished on Oct. 21 2011 by Kristian
There's no John Irving novel I don't love, except this one. Most of them, I have re-read about five times. Read morePublished on Jan. 8 2004 by Ben Culture
If you like Irving's work, you will like this book. It's very wierd but that is what ol' Johnny is all about. Read morePublished on Nov. 10 2002
John Irving (once again) shows us his love of detail - his novels must be read slowly, and appreciatively. Read morePublished on July 26 2001
In all honesty, it's been years since I last read Setting Free The Bears, but I can still find the paragraphs that resonate:
"Some people are proud and some have their... Read more
Nazis and ill-tempered Asiatic bears, Communists and geleda baboons systematically intersect in John Irving's deliberately schizophrenic debut novel, Setting Free The Bears. Read morePublished on Nov. 26 2000 by Mr. Cairene
Having met John in Iowa City before Garp was published, BEARS was all I knew of his work. I just re-read it.
Despite some lack of polish, it still moves me the most. Read more
This book has a great deal of mediocre writing, poor character development, and forced humor; however, it was a very enjoyable and stimulating read. Read morePublished on Sept. 21 2000 by Jerry Clyde Phillips