I had just finished reading A Confederacy of Dunces
and I was looking for another classic to read, but my to-read list is longer than my lifespan. I needed help narrowing down my options, so I asked a librarian friend for recommendations because I knew he had read a lot of classics. This was one of the books he recommended and it turned out to be a great read!
This book has everything — a great story, wonderful writing and storytelling, and characters that you care about. Sometimes John Irving had these beautiful, complex sentences with coordinating or subordinating clauses. I love it when an author focuses on the art of writing instead of focusing on the art of writing crappy bestsellers. The World According to Garp
also has sexual content and violence (war injuries, rape, car accidents, etc.) if you like that sort of thing.
Garp is a writer (as well as his mother Jenny Fields), so John Irving included a lot of Garp's own writing. It's interesting to see how Irving develops Garp's distinct writing style, so it's a writing style within a writing style.
By the way, I think it's sick how Jenny Fields conceives Garp.
What I also loved about this book was all of the references to other classics such as books from Homer, Woolf, Conrad, Twain, Melville, Dickens, Hemingway and Dostoyevsky. I especially enjoyed Garp's discussion with Mrs. Ralph about Dostoyevsky's The Eternal Husband
. I've never read it, but after reading their discussion about it, I'm intrigued. Garp described the book as "a wonderful story," "neatly complicated,"
with "complex characters."
Mrs. Ralph described it as "a sick story"
and "His women are less than objects. They don't even have a shape. They're just ideas that men talk about and play with."
Now I want to find out who is correct.
I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a great classic.