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The World According To Garp (Black Swan) [Paperback]

John Irving
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

26 Oct 1979 Black Swan
This is the life and times of T. S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields - a feminist leader ahead of her times. It is also 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. It provides almost cheerful, even hilarious evidence of its famous last line: "In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases."

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Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (26 Oct 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552992054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552992053
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 82,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

John Irving published his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, in 1968. He has been nominated for a National Book Award three times - winning once, in 1980, for the novel The World According to Garp. In 1992, Mr. Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 2000, he won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules - a film with seven Academy Award nominations. In 2001, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Last Night in Twisted River is John Irving's twelfth novel.

(Photo credit: Everett Irving)

Product Description

Review

"Absolutely extraordinary...a roller-coaster ride that leaves one breathless, exhausted, elated and tearful" (Los Angeles Times)

"A wonderful novel, full of energy and art, at once funny and heartbreaking. You know it is true. It is also terrific" (The Washington Post)

"Like all great works of art, Irving's novel seems always to have been there, a diamond sleeping in the dark, chipped out at last for our enrichment and delight...As approachable as it is brilliant, Garp pulses with vital energy" (Cosmopolitan)

"Like all extraordinary books, The World According to Garp defies synopsis" (Chicago Sun Times)

Book Description

A masterpiece from one of the great contemporary American writers.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
That is, if you have as good an imagination as John Irving.
I had heard great things about John Irving, and had it not been for this fact I would have never launched myself into a 600 page novel. I am easily bored. Even despite its recommendations I was still unprepared for how I would react to The World According to Garp.
The novel begins by narrating the unusual circumstances surrounding Garp's entrance into the world, i.e. from the perspective of his mother. Although its is a long book, I really felt that every word was necessary, and points are woven together throughout the novel. The story climaxes towards the end, by which time you are grateful for the extra pages.
Garp is a writer, and this book is about writing, and the world 'according to a writer,' and especially a father. Irving writes in his afterword that his book is about a father's fear of losing his children. He says: "I'm just a father with a good imagination. In my imagination I lose my children every day."
The fun thing is we get to read Garp's writing, too, and his best work, a short story called The Pension Grillparzer (don't ask!) has actually been published as a separate book in its own right. We get to know Garp through his writing and through the other characters, as well as through Irving's voice. A very inventive novel, pushing the boundaries of fiction, not just its shape, but its subject too.
This book made me laugh. The comedy is so closely intertwined with the tragedy that you feel personally involved with the joke. You experience pain with humour, tragedy with farce, and warmth all the way through. You never know what is going to happen next. I know what I'm going to do next: read some more Irving!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Read 25 Nov 2009
Format:Paperback
This is truly my favourite book ever! A fabulous story about the life of Garp from conception until death.(and a very unusual conception it was).
The reader experiences Garps life with him. His unusual mother and upbringing. The characters he encounters are thoroughly enjoyable. Particularly Roberta Muldoon. It is a story that makes you laugh and cry and I was teary at the end. My next pet whether it be male or female is going to be named Garp!
A lot of John Irving's usual themes are present in the book, New England, wrestling, animals etc. This is my favourite John Irving title and the film with Robin Williams starring as Garp fails to do it any justice at all.
I would reccomend this book as a great flowing story about life with but with Irving style quirkyness.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book! 30 Jun 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This really is a wonderful book; alternately hysterically funny and surreal, and at one point heartbreakingly sad. From the very first page, you are drawn into Garp's peculiar world. The characters are fully-developed and the plot races along at a cracking pace.
It's a bit of a cliché to say that a book can make you laugh and also make you cry, but in this case it's true. If this is the first John Irving book you read, it certainly won't be the last.
Set aside a couple of completely free days to read it - once you start, you won't want to put it down.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Loss of Innocence? 21 Jan 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The World According to Garp, I think, was a book of its time. Like Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run or The Beatles Sgt Peppers', it captured a feeling in the community, particularly the baby boomers, which a lot of people then understood and related to. Unfortunately, with time, this understanding has become less than clear to ensuing generations. It was released in the mid to late 1070s (1978 I think) when the baby boomers were all hitting 30 and starting to slow down, starting to think they needed some literary icon of their own generation to look to, the way they had looked to the Beatles, Stones and Rolling Stone magazine etc when they were teenagers. Remember, Salinger, Keroac, Kesey, Thompson etc were all born pre-WWII.
The most peculiar (to younger readers) element of this novel must be the Ellen Jamesians, a metaphor I think, for the fanatics that dominated the society, politics and news of the 1970s - everything from disco mania to Patty Hearst's terrorist group, to the student killings at Kent State, to all the other violent terrorist acts of that decade. All had their genesis in the freedom of expression realised by the baby boomers in the 1960s and the frustration and anger that came with the realisation that society being what it is, this freedom had nowhere to go. (TANGENT: that freedom of expression was always there, it was just that these were the first kids to see themselves on TV, the first fruits of the first real middle class America had known, and they thought their future would be different to that of their parents because their youth had been) So, the anger poured out against segregation and Vietnam in the 1960s and early 1970s had nowhere to go once Nixon resigned and Saigon fell.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A "weird" book about "weirdness" 27 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Some of this book, indeed most of it, is stratospherically brilliant. The episode in Vienna with the young aspiring Author Garp is matchless, and well worth the "entry fee" alone.

Overal the work lost a star though for me on account of the following faults, but would not want to put people off what should be a strong recommend. To Carp or even Garp then: these were for me the main faults.

1. moments of deep American cliché (too many meals are "fixed" for my liking, for utterly cardboard children Duncan and Walt! (ouch). Walt dies, which ought to be a tragedy! And I got sick of hearing about Garp's love of his children, which seemed gratuitous, most if not all people love their children so how is that interesting?). In particular how I hate that Americ an "fixed" as in "fixing" a meal.

2. occasional moments of deep torpor, which interestingly but unintentionally or unconsciously I suspect , mirror Garp's lack of literary invention and inspiration.

3. Sporadic unbelieveability as to plot and character and occasional over-contrivance. Helen Holm Garp is not a very credible character at any stage, nor are her children (see above) and her infidelity though important for the plot, because of tragic consequences that lead to literary inspiration/catharsis, is very difficult to buy into - it is seemingly driven by nothing!

In summary then t seems to be mainly an ambitious highly self referential book mainly about injustice and violence towards women (rape), and also about the writing process, including about "books about books".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
zero percent funny
1 shocking event (soon forgotten)
forty percent (bad) sex
sixty percent hot air
One hundred percent boring
One big fat stinker
Published 3 months ago by ilcampi
2.0 out of 5 stars Umm, Difficult to review..............
I couldn't make my mind up about what to say of this book. Until I spotted the 1 star review above by beccajwp. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Ges
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read..
This novel has you laughing and crying at the same time. Brilliantly written, compulsive reading. What a film this would make!
Published 5 months ago by Marie McLafferty
2.0 out of 5 stars Dystopian socio-sexual politics
Garp is born to Jenny Fields a strong minded and independent woman. Initially Jenny is portrayed a misandrist who is quite comfortable in slicing open a soldier who makes... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Calypso
5.0 out of 5 stars Bought for my wife - one of her favourite books of all time
Couldn't write a proper review here, as I haven't read the book: it was a present for my wife, and she absolutely loved it. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Si
5.0 out of 5 stars An enthralling work of fiction
I chose to purchase this book on the recommendation of a friend.
I found the subtle characterisations to be incredibly detailed and skilfully woven into the storyline. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mr Drain
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best
I chose to read John Irving for the first time whilst deciding on a topic for my English coursework in sixth form. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Emily1789
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Fun
There's not many books that make me laugh out loud but this was one of them. Rather rude, er, very rude in places but thoroughly enjoyable despite the black humour. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Firebird
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and captivating
From his somewhat unusual conception through to the end of his life, we follow the life of the rather solitary, independent thinker who is T.S. Garp. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Benjamin
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable novel - sometimes too affectedly 'weird'
This is one of Irving's earlier books. He is justly famous for it, and for HNH, but it is not as good as his later stuff - he seems to be working through some personal issues, and... Read more
Published on 24 Aug 2011 by Jezza
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