Thursday, July 10, 2014

Review of The World According to Garp


I'm going to take my time to write this review.
The world according to Garp is a novel that's changed my view of life. I haven't read many books like it and I'm saddened because Garp is a fictional character instead of someone truly alive.

Saying that I loved it, doesn't seem to say enough. I've lived this book, it crawled underneath my skin, in such severity that instead of wanting to know what happened and rushing through it, I actually had to close the book right before the accident. I just couldn't read on, knowing something bad was going to happen. I cried, I even had to find solace with my husband who does find it strange when I get so emotionally attached to a fictional world, but I loved Garp, I loved his family and knowing something bad was going to happen, knowing that he would feel hurt and guilty was too much for me and I didn't read another word for more than a day.

I started reading this novel while I was on vacation in Brittany, France. Huddled together with my family I started in it halfway my trip, just finished my other one and because of the broken e-reader, otherwise I might have pushed it further a little. I'm admitting that the title didn't quite sell me and the notion that almost everyone finds this a wonderful novel made me afraid that I wasn't going to like it. That has happened in the past and it's a serious letdown. It even momentarily destroys my faith in others opinions.

But enough about me, more about the novel.
The world according to Garp is a novel about a writer and his family and the normal life they're living. You might think it's a novel about lust, but it isn't, lust is only a means to express the Garp's anxieties of not knowing what the future will bring. Lust is a way to bring control in a life where control is nowhere to be seen. No one can tell what will happen tomorrow, not even what will happen in the next hour. Most of us think they can control the flow of their life, but we are subject to millions of flows and any one of them can interact with ours at any given time, even obliterate the path we might have put our minds to. Being flexible is a good thing to be when it comes to being alive, but once you have children, fear makes you rigid. The most overused phrase I can think of is 'There's nothing to fear but fear itself'. There's truth in that, but being a parent is having given your heart to something not able to take care of itself, we don't even believe that when our kids turn out to be adults and parents themselves that they can take care of themselves as well as we have.

Garp is scared for something happening to his children. He doesn't express that same fear towards his wife, but she's always been a rock in their midst. Helen tries to downtone his anxiety, as I sometimes have to do with my husband. Why I'm less scared than my husband, I don't know. I think I have more trust in the future, however naive that may be.
This novel is clearly written from a male perspective and I loved it for it. It tackles themes like feminist movements, transsexuals (as in In One Person) and how women are mostly living under the laws of their men, but all seen from a male point of view which gives such a beautiful scene I almost want to read this novel again, having just finished it. I think I'm in literary love with the writer in John Irving.

I'm not giving a summary of this novel per se, that would feel like trying to sum up someone's life when they've died. They did good, they did bad, they did the best they could, but most of all they did it because they believed in it. Garp will stay a part of my literary memory and he made me think about a few things in my own life. A novel that makes you feel is wonderful, but a novel that makes you think is almost one of a kind.

In the off chance that he would stumble upon this review, I sincerely want to thank John Irving for giving life to this novel. It's the best book I've read so far and I've read a lot of books already.
I also want to thank Esa, because it's due to his recommendation that I finally dug into it.

I'm giving this novel 11 out of 10. 

1 comment:

  1. What a stirring review, Nath. There are times we come upon works of art that alter our way of being. They burrow deep down and many aspects of our lives look and feel different. Garp was probably the first novel that did it to me and I'm so glad it was an epiphany for you as well. I had an inkling that some of the themes would touch your young mothers heart. It still niggles away at this old fathers too, still.
    Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete