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The 158-Pound Marriage (Black Swan) Paperback – 22 Feb 1980

3.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (22 Feb. 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552992089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552992084
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 332,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"The most important American humorist to appear in the last ten years" (Kurt Vonnegut)

"Irving's popularity is not hard to understand. His world really is the world according to everyone" (Time)

"John Irving has been compared with Kurt Vonnegut and J.D.Salinger, but is arguably more inventive than either. Wry, laconic, he sketches his characters with an economy that springs from a feeling for words and mastery over his craft. This superbly original book is one to be read and remembered" (The Times)

Book Description

A modern classic from the international bestseller John Irving.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

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I have to say this is a lot better than the other reviews suggest. Its an easy and entertaining read in which Irving intertwines a current complex relationship with character histories going back several decades.
In this novel you can see the seeds of Hotel New Hampshire and Garp and the recurrent Irving themes and backgrounds (Wrestling, German, Austria, sex) are very much evident. I very much enjoyed it.
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Format: Paperback
This is an early Irving which, as usual, contains references to wrestling and features the city of Vienna. This is the story of a foursome, quirky stories about their individual pasts and how they all met. But also about where this unusual relationship is going. As often with Irving you wonder "but where does he get this from?!". From Utch's childhood (found hiding in a cow by a Russian army officer), to Edith and Severin's trip to Greece and the watermelon truck, how Edith seems to never be able to differentiate between her two children, Utch's jealous roommates gradually shaving off all their body hair to protest as she got married, the guy with a hole in his cheek, the surprise goodbye ceremony from Severin's friends, and everything about Audrey Cannon (I won't spoil the plot on this one). This is all so original and funny. Irving created very likeable characters. He even managed to convey his passion for wrestling through Severin's character in a rather subtle way.

I was not very keen on reading this book as this is an early Irving which does not seem very popular but I think this is a little gem. Not his best but definitely unpretentious and a great read.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of John Irving's earlier novels. It does not reach the heights of his work during his best phase, which ran from "The world according to Garp" to "A son of the circus", but I think fans of Irving will find it interesting. Some of his constant preoccupations turn up here (wrestling, Vienna) and the seriocomic elements are firmly in place. It meanders much less than his more recent works. Indeed, beside the gargantuan "Until I find you" (which this reviewer is still reading), it is practically a short story.
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Format: Kindle Edition
After reading John Irving's A Son Of The Circus a few months ago and enjoying it , I decided to read another of his books. I chose The 158-Pound Marriage because, unlike many of Irving's other works it was a slim volume ideal for carrying whilst commuting.

The narrator is an academic who writes historical novels. His wife, Utch, was born in Austria soon before the Soviet Union marched in at the end of WW2. Severin, also born in Austria, teaches German and coaches wrestling at the same university as the narrator. His wife, Edith, is an aspiring novelist.

The two couples decide to become a foursome'. By mutual agreement Severin spends occasional nights sleeping with Utch, whilst Edith and the narrator sleep together. It is an arrangement that appears to be working, but from the beginning of the book I suspected that things turn sour. It is clear from the outset that the narrator is wary of Severin, but the reverse is not true. Severin turns out to be a colourful character full of mystery, some of which is gradually revealed as the tale unfolds. Inevitably, things end badly, but I will not reveal any details.

Compared to A Son Of The Circus, The 158-Pound Marriage is colourless and dull. It was only a refusal to give up, that kept me going until the last page. However, I have not been put-off reading John Irving, and plan to tackle some of his better-known novels in the future.

Review by author of ROGUE OF ROUXVILLE
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