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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss It!
Garp hooks you right from the start, when you meet his fiercely independent-minded mother, Jenny Fields, a nurse who slashes a leering soldier in a movie theater in the WWII era. Poor Jenny has no interest whatsoever in men (she is not gay...she just has no sexual interest in anyone). But the irony is, her wealthy, conservative family believes that she is rutting like a...
Published on June 11 2005 by Laurie

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Spitting into the wind
I have several friends with whom I have argued passionately about Irving over the years. Why is it that we love some authors and hate others? For me, Irving is the most plastic and shallow writer I have ever encountered, with the most contrived characters I have ever met. I have wondered about the process of the creation of some of the bizarrely unbelievable...
Published on March 7 1998 by Robert Moore


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Spitting into the wind, March 7 1998
By 
Robert Moore (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I have several friends with whom I have argued passionately about Irving over the years. Why is it that we love some authors and hate others? For me, Irving is the most plastic and shallow writer I have ever encountered, with the most contrived characters I have ever met. I have wondered about the process of the creation of some of the bizarrely unbelievable characters. "Well, I need a character here, and I will make him a former NFL star tight end who has had a sex change operation." Even to his fans, Irving's characters are a bit on the different side (well, OK, a lot on the different side). I find them utterly hollow and unbelievable. This falsity I find running throughout all of Irving's books. But THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP was the first one that I read, and therefore the one I hold in lowest regard. My friends and others are going to go on reading what I consider to be Irving's abominable books. I recommend reading something by A. S. Byatt or David Lodge or Robertson Davies instead.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss It!, June 11 2005
By 
Laurie (Marshall, MI) - See all my reviews
Garp hooks you right from the start, when you meet his fiercely independent-minded mother, Jenny Fields, a nurse who slashes a leering soldier in a movie theater in the WWII era. Poor Jenny has no interest whatsoever in men (she is not gay...she just has no sexual interest in anyone). But the irony is, her wealthy, conservative family believes that she is rutting like a rabbit.
Jenny may not be promiscuous, but she definitely has some unconventional ideas. She wants a baby, but does not want to become involved with a man to get one. Since artificial insemination was not yet mainstream in the 1940s, she finds a vegetative soldier with whom to perform her insemination.

T. S. Garp is the result (he has no first name, just initials, in honor of the fact that his father was a Technical Sergeant). Most of the story is his, but Jenny still plays a prominent role throughout. Garp's life is unconventional, and that's putting it mildly. I won't go into detail, because I don't want to ruin the delight of reading the book and discovering it for yourself.
It becomes even more confusing when Jenny writes a book called "A Sexual Suspect," detailing her unusual life and views. It becomes a best seller, and now Garp not only knows the truth about how he was conceived, but everyone else in America knows too because the book is a best seller.
Garp is surrounded with an entertaining (and sometimes frightening) cast of supporting characters, including his wife Helen, the snobbish Percy family whose members go by nicknames such as "Cushie" and "Pooh" (his intimate relationship with one member will play a major role in his undoing at the hands of another), the horny neighbor "Mrs. Ralph," a trio of prostitutes in Vienna (one of whom wants to both mother him and have sex with him), and the lovelorn ex-football-player-turned-transexual named Robert Muldoon.

Crazy things happen to Garp throughout the book, but interestingly enough, there isn't a major point or a build-up to some sort of moral. It's more like "Seinfeld"...a book about nothing. Yet it's also a book about everything...feminism, sexuality, adultry, ambition, and even death. It's about the life of Garp, and isn't that pretty much how anyone's life is? Maybe the things that happen to most of us aren't as surreal as what happens to Irving's characters, but life is truly just a series of events and that's why Garp's world is, too.

There are some sad and disturbing parts, like the fate of Garp's youngest son. This book is loaded with humor, but it's black comedy to be sure. If you're looking for cheerily upbeat reading, this isn't the place to find it.
But I urge you to give it a try...and please, for the love of God, DO NOT watch the movie beforehand (or even afterwards). Some things are perfect as-is, and this book is one of them. But try it for yourself. Pick up a copy! Another book I need to recommend -- very much on my mind since I purchased a "used" copy off Amazon is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition," a funny, highly entertaining little novel I can't stop thinking about.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best, Feb. 11 2005
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP by John Irving, is the story of an ordinary man with an extraordinary life. This man is T. S. Garp, illegitimate son of famous feminist Jenny Fields and Technical Sergeant Garp (hence the 'T. S.'), a severely wounded American soldier. Before Ms. Fields was famous, she was a feminist by nature, and though she wished to have a child, she did not wish to have any sort of relationship with a man. So when Technical Sergeant Garp is brought into the hospital where she works as a nurse with shrapnel in his brain, Jenny realizes that she has found the perfect father for her son. The rest of the story is as amazing as the manner in which Garp is conceived. It chronicles his life as a struggling writer living in the shadow of his mother's fame. The only true immortality is the written word in "The World According to Garp." Garp spends most of the novel attempting to write his classic, the book that will make him famous and thus immortal. I was reminded at time of the work of Jackson McCrae, especially his BARK OF THE DOGWOOD or his CHILDREN'S CORNER --the writing is just that good, deep, and well constructed. Irving helps convey the theme to the readers by constantly using foreshadowing. There is little that happens in this novel that the reader does not have at least a slight inkling about prior to its occurrence. Whereas with other authors this may have made the story boring and predictable, Irving utilizes this element in a way that keeps the reader guessing, occasionally hinting at things that do not actually happen or things unrelated to the main story. Overall, the theme is expressed clearly but not blatantly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT!, July 19 2004
By 
"petkov" (Highland Park, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
To be honest, this book was my first one of John Irving's, but i must say: IT WON'T BE THE LAST! John Irving pulls you into this book of loves, lusts, and life. I am just thirteen and even at my age i loved and understood it. What i think I liked most about this book is that it was different from most books today. It didn't have a certain plot, other than showing you this man's life, from pre-birth, to post-death. This book was amazing and i would reccomend it to anyone who is mature enough to handle it. Oh, and the movie is great too!
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all time favorites, June 28 2004
By 
M. MCDONALD (Oak Park, IL) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The World According to Garp is not a typical novel. It flows like a human life; many ups and downs. And as with life, you never know what is coming next.
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5.0 out of 5 stars He's no Richard Russo, but Irving gets it right with TWATG, June 17 2004
By 
H. Huggins (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
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John Irving is quite a storyteller. Read other reviews to get a synopsis, but this is basically the life story of Garp, an unlikely hero. The book is shot with dry wit that had me smiling through most of the book. But the most powerful scenes are the tragic ones. I don't think marital infidelity has ever been so well written about as it is in TWATG. I actually cried on the bus while reading this book. It's a roller coaster.
While Irving is a wonderful storyteller, his characters are still a little flat. Hence my comment about him being no Richard Russo (one of my favorite authors), someone he is consistently compared to. Still, the vibrant storyline and general oddness make this book one heck of a read. Irving's best.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What a pleasure, June 13 2004
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I took my time reading this book, in fact I finished it only after a few months of reading it. The reason for this is that this book I used as an escape from my world. It's told in the most magical manner that will suck you into the character's odd world. This book is definitely something to read if you're bored of the books out there.
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5.0 out of 5 stars funny funny funny, May 26 2004
By A Customer
this book is hard to describe without ruining it, i'll just say that i was able to read it continuously even though i was in San Sebastián Spain on the beach while i was reading it
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, April 11 2004
A story of three generations in a highly atypical family. Comic to the point of inducing laughter out loud, this book exposes intense psychological issues (such as the need for safety, the position of men and women in society, rape and senseless violence, and the foibles that mark humanity) in a manner that makes the reader feel a little less ostracized from society, regardless of their eccentricity. A really wonderful book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful But Unlikely Story, April 9 2004
By 
John Irving is a very thorough and gifted storyteller. I had familiarity with some of his previous work, but only recently discovered "The World According to Garp". In reality, the story does not have a real life lesson or moral. It is just an interesting and entertaining tale about a strange life. As odd and unlikely as many of the characters may seem, one must suspend disbelief and be entertained.
T. S. Garp seemed to doomed to live an abnormal life. Even the manner in which he we conceived is odd to the point where it is not believable. Garp grows up without a father and a mother who describes herself as a "sexual suspect" because she is an unwed mother. Garp grows to maturity at the all boys school which his life seems to revolve around. In his childhood, his mother is a nurse. Through his mother's life, she compiles interesting tales that compile her book. This book makes the reluctant head of the women's liberation movement and vulnerable to radical groups like the ficticious Ellen Jamesians. The alignment with the feminist movements leads to the eventual demise of both Garp and his mother. Along the way, we an interesting cast of charaters. Roberta is the best friend to Jenny Fields, Garp's mother. However, Roberta was once known as Robert or #90. In fact, she once played Tight End in the NFL. Garp also becomes closely associate with Ellen James, the reluctant martyr of a feminist group who cut out their own tongues.
Despite an obvious shadow cast by his mother, Garp's goal in life is to become a successful writer. He does finish three stories. All of these stories are included in the book. Each of the stories give a little into Garp's character. The first two stories are a little drab. However, the third story is actually well done. I almost wish I could read the actual product. The stories written by Garp are included in the book. My only objection to this is that they interupt the momentum of the story.
The book is very well written. I find in remarkable how thorough John Irving is in his writing. Additionally, many parts in the book are genuinely funny. Once I started the book, I found it hard to put down. It is a great book for dedicated fiction readers.
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The World According to Garp
The World According to Garp by John Irving (Hardcover - April 20 1998)
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