The World According to Garp by John Irving

Rating - Read

I have long been fascinated by the title ‘The World According to Garp’. It is one of the very few titles that would have made me want to pick the book off a shelf and atleast read the back cover and the first few pages to see if I wanted to read the book. Since this one was on Librarywala, I could not do the usual tests but nevertheless I went for it. The book turned out to be good.

The central character, Garp, is born to a single mother who goes from being a nurse to a famous feminist author, without really having targeted that path. Garp’s literary skills exceed those of his mother and he spends most of the book trying to reach his potential or being a famous author (and sometimes the two are very different things). During the course of the book, he marries, has a family, goes through loves and losses. All of this of course sounds like the standard family drama, except that the characters are preoccupied with completely non-standard stuff.

Garp’s mother never understands why people are so taken up by physical intimacy and her book flows from her thoughts on this. It becomes a cult classic and is taken as a bible for many a young woman beginning to embark on the path of feminism.

Garp has a more balanced, infact, open view on the topic. His neurosis is being obsessed about his family and his constant worry about keeping them safe. He is talented at writing but struggles to reach his full potential. Much as he loves his mom, he fails to understand why his mother is a feminist icon or why she accepts the role. He does not respect or comprehend most of the women who becomes his mother's followers but develops a lifelong friendship with her devoted transsexual ex-footballer follower. His is an open marriage, yet his rage at one particular affair of his wife's leads to big consequences.

Garp’s world is complicated in a way that he can help sometimes and which is beyond him at other times. And that is what makes the book a good read. The whole book just rolled on from one piece of absorbing action to the next. There were a few dialogues interesting enough to be read out and shared.

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