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The Water-Method Man [Mass Market Paperback]

John Irving
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 13 1990
The main character of John Irving's second novel, written when the author was twenty-nine, is a perpetual graduate student with a birth defect in his urinary tract--and a man on the threshold of committing himself to a second marriage that bears remarkable resemblance to his first....
"Three or four times as funny as most novels."
THE NEW YORKER

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Review

"Brutal reality and hallucination, comedy and pathos. A rich, unified tapestry" Time "John Irving, it is abundantly clear, is a true artist. He is not afraid to take on great themes" Los Angeles Times "John Irving has been compared with Kurt Vonnegut and J. D. Salinger, but is arguably more inventive than either" The Times "Three or four times as funny as most novels" The New Yorker --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

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. John Irving 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Really? Four stars? Jan. 6 2011
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I had missed this Irving book somehow and bought it to read on my holiday. It's a dog. Some said too clever for it's own good. I don't think so. If it had been written in 2010 I wonder if it would have been called "tale of a man with depression and adult adhd?". In the end, I'm glad to have read it and once I got 3/4 of the way through, it was entertaining but it's only a so-so read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Long & Winding Road Nov. 5 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"The Water Method Man" could easily be renamed "John Irving's Frankenstein". Bits of first-person and third-person narration, a movie script, and an Old Low Norse epic are patched together to form a book at times funny and other times almost unreadable. The end product is entertaining and probably too clever for its own good.
The story focuses on Fred "Bogus" Trumper, the shallow, immature man who fails at one marriage, almost fails at another relationship, becomes the subject of a mockumentary, and undergoes painful surgery to correct a rather sensitive defect (hence the title of the book). Throughout the tangled web of narratives, Bogus eventually grows up a little and is perhaps on the way to becoming a good husband and father.
For fans of Irving, this earlier work contains all the elements of any of his novels--Vienna, prostitutes, New England (everything except a bear). Having read the author's memoirs I know that at least some of the material is based loosely on Irving's own experiences. There are more humorous elements in this book than later ones like "The Cider House Rules" or "Prayer for Owen Meany"; I would say "Water Method" is the funniest of the Irving novels I've read to date.
The writing, the characters, the story are all vintage Irving--there's no point in discussing those. The problem is HOW the story is told. The setting changes so much that as a reader it's hard to get into the flow of the book until it's almost over. There were many times when I thought about just giving up and putting it back on the shelf, but I pressed ahead and--like Ian McEwan's "Atonement"--my patience was rewarded with a story that when pieced together is humorous and a little touching (for an Irving novel).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific early Irving Sept. 2 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
My first John Irving was The World According to Garp and I've gone backwards from that point, having not read any of his later works. After Garp, I read The 158-Pound Marriage and then Setting Free the Bears, both wonderful in their own ways, especially as a portrait of a developing novelist.
But it is with The Water Method Man the Irving really begins to blossom. All the quirky bits in the other novels really seem to flow together seamlessly here, in preparation for the magnum opus that would be Garp.
The Water-Method Man is the story of Fred "Bogus" Trumper and his two main relationships with women: his marriage to Biggie and his subsequent relationship with Tulpen. (I love Irving's way with names--these are definitely not going to be confused with anyone you know.)
Bogus failed at marriage and Irving implies that he is going down a similar path with Tulpen. His friend Ralph Packer is even documenting this fall on a film. The most interesting parts of the novel are actually those that take you out of the story for a moment. The POV changes throughout without warning: one moment Bogus is telling his story and with a paragraph change, it is being narrated about him. Along the way, Irving uses the epistolary format to tell part of the tale, and one chapter is, in its entirety, a transcript for the film.
The title refers to a penile problem Bogus has and how his doctor tries to remedy it. This is a minor subplot, but it feeds the character of Bogus in subtle ways. Irving's early novels are always funny, lightly so, not laugh-out-loud, and The Water-Method Man is no exception. It's not a quick read, but is well worth the time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific early Irving Sept. 2 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
My first John Irving was The World According to Garp and I've gone backwards from that point, having not read any of his later works. After Garp, I read The 158-Pound Marriage and then Setting Free the Bears, both wonderful in their own ways, especially as a portrait of a developing novelist.
But it is with The Water Method Man the Irving really begins to blossom. All the quirky bits in the other novels really seem to flow together seamlessly here, in preparation for the magnum opus that would be Garp.
The Water-Method Man is the story of Fred "Bogus" Trumper and his two main relationships with women: his marriage to Biggie and his subsequent relationship with Tulpen. (I love Irving's way with names--these are definitely not going to be confused with anyone you know.)
Bogus failed at marriage and Irving implies that he is going down a similar path with Tulpen. His friend Ralph Packer is even documenting this fall on a film. The most interesting parts of the novel are actually those that take you out of the story for a moment. The POV changes throughout without warning: one moment Bogus is telling his story and with a paragraph change, it is being narrated about him. Along the way, Irving uses the epistolary format to tell part of the tale, and one chapter is, in its entirety, a transcript for the film.
The title refers to a penile problem Bogus has and how his doctor tries to remedy it. This is a minor subplot, but it feeds the character of Bogus in subtle ways. Irving's early novels are always funny, lightly so, not laugh-out-loud, and The Water-Method Man is no exception. It's not a quick read, but is well worth the time.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Comic Genius
People who find this novel tedious, and the narrator idiotic and unlikable, are really missing the point. Read more
Published on July 24 2003 by "lydiacatherine"
5.0 out of 5 stars The World According to Bogus
It would seem that John Irving has always been a self-assured author. His first novel, Setting Free the Bears, is a very unlikely "first" work. Read more
Published on May 9 2003 by Jerry Clyde Phillips
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Writing & Insightful Snapshots
The Water-Method Man is a well-written piece of fiction that is worth the read. This story has a 'woven' plot that takes you back and forth through the weft and weave of the... Read more
Published on June 1 2002 by "gam2saints"
4.0 out of 5 stars a masterpiece of multi-layering
To emulate a memorable character from a novel written by one of John Irving's favorite authors..."Does one 'sniff' a hint of Robertson Davies's multilayering of plot? Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2001 by NotATameLion
5.0 out of 5 stars Irving at his very best.
Ah, what can I say about a book that has accompanied me all around the world? The wit, sarcasm and character development of J.D. Salinger set in a more modern era. Read more
Published on June 1 2001 by Thornton F. Cole
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite Irving book
It's interesting that I seem to be in the minority in considering this Irving's best work. By comparison, I feel that the more popular _Garp_ and _Owen Meany_ are overly contrived,... Read more
Published on May 8 2001 by Virginia Coklow
3.0 out of 5 stars i probably made the mistake of....
reading "the cider house rules" and 'a prayer for owen meany" before reading this book. Read more
Published on March 9 2001 by tim camas
4.0 out of 5 stars Just a memory...
I surprise myself that, some twenty years after I read "The Water-Method Man", I am about to write a review of it. Read more
Published on Jan. 7 2001 by PlanoTX
4.0 out of 5 stars Yet another wonderful character.
The Water Method Man does not come out the magical cauldron that John Irwing used to concoct The World According to Garp and A Prayer for Owen Meany, but it is still a great read,... Read more
Published on Jan. 2 2001 by tommy2405
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