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!