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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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Book Details

ISBN: 9780552992053
ISBN-10: 0552992054
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 127mm x 37mm)
Pages: 608
Imprint: Black Swan
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Publish Date: 1-Jul-1986
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » Every 10 years or so an American novel strikes a chord with the reading public and seems to define the age. Catch 22 was one such for the 1960s, and for the 1970s this novel by John Irving was another. Brilliant, picaresque and Dickensian, it challenges the bounds of fact and fiction digressing into feminism, sexuality and violence with stunning verve, and its frequent sentimentality cannot obscure either the comedy or the ultimate tragedy. First published in 1978. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Book-club spotlighting is bound to introduce Irving's particular brio to its largest audience yet; his newest book is characteristically broad and eager, Heir to a shoe-manufacturing fortune and a Wellesley dropout, Jenny Fields becomes a nurse, which isn't quite the thing for a girl of her station. Girls of her station also have some use for men, while Jenny uses one man for one purpose only and only once: she calculatedly gets herself impregnated by an accidentally lobotomized war-veteran patient, Technical Sergeant Garp. Moreover, Jenny defies convention by writing and publishing, late in life, a memoir (entitled "A Sexual Suspect") that quickly becomes a feminist bible. Her son, T. S. Garp (named for his father), grows up meanwhile with writerly instincts of Ids own; Jenny whisks him off to Austria for an education richer in life than college would afford, and Irving shuffles Jenny offstage in order to concentrate on young Garp: his marriage to bookish Helen, his two young sons, Helen's half-hearted affair with a graduate student, and then a grotesque accident involving the entire family that maims one son, kills the other, and (by plot-tinkering) literally dismembers the cuckolding grad student. Also offered are samples of Garp's manuscripts during this time, presumably objective correlatives to Garp's life at the time, but more like a handy hole for loose and incompatible prose efforts the book would not otherwise graciously host. Jenny comes back near book's end, getting herself assassinated at a feminist political rally, but it's Garp's (and Irving's) version of the world that's in control by then. That version is richly anecdotal - almost a brocade of digression - and mostly involved with the same basically inert topics that Irving's earlier books were made of: Vienna, wrestling, wife-swapping, boy's schools, novelists. Despite the withit trappings (feminism, etc.), Irving's wild stylistic scrabble up and down the keys resolves itself into a few leaden theme chords that his veteran readers will wish that he'd broken free of by now. But this hint of staleness will be all but totally disguised to first-time readers: Irving's style and zest remain superb, and his fondness for children - his anxiety over them and their welfare - is as rare and fine and affecting and pure as Heller's or Cheever's. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - John Irving

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. He also received an O. Henry Award in 1981 for the short story 'Interior Space'. In 1992, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 2000, he won the 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. His most recent novel is Last Night in Twisted River.

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