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The World According to Garp

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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  138,924 ratings  ·  3,606 reviews
This is the life and times of T. S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields--a feminist leader ahead of her times. This is 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 ri ...more
Hardcover, 609 pages
Published April 1st 1999 by Ballantine Books (first published 1978)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Emily
This book is one of my favorites. Because I like it so much, I'm not going to say much, except that it's always worth reading, even if you have read it before.
There's a scene in this book it's a revealed that a high-up publisher gives all his manuscripts to his cleaning lady, and she's the one that tells him whether they're worth publishing or not. When he asks her why she read a particularly disturbing novel, she answers "To find out what happens next." Later, she adds, "A book's true when you
...more
Louisa
Extremes. This book is an elegy on the downside of extreme behaviour/attitude and I can totally relate to that because I'm all about the extreme. An example: I either like someone/something to the max or not at all. It's that simple. It's not easy to find the words to convey the passion, excitement, hilarity and tragic sadness this book evokes. All I can say is that Irving has an imagination and a half. He takes you on a rampage of a roller coaster ride with people that blow your mind and you do ...more
Janene
I had heard so much positive about this book...that it was on my 'Books to Read Before I Die'...list.

Well, I will die with having read 1/2 of it. I kept reading, I guess...because of how great it was supposed to be. I mean...John Irving! I got to the half way point and thought..."Where is this going?!" I then realized I really didn't care. And put it down. Page after page, I finally came to the realization there wasn't enough of a story/plot to get me to turn another page.

'So many books...too
...more
Roy
I'd say that "Lolita" and "Love in the Time of Cholera" are the two best written books I've ever read. But if I had to pick my all time favorite book I'd probably go with "The World According to Garp". Irving takes us on the path of T.S. Garp's life from conception to death and I was enthralled every step of the way. This book is full of humanity, full of both light and dark humor, and full of insight into the human condition. Irving took over from Charles Dickens and put his own unique spin on ...more
Agnieszka


I heard about this book for the first time in early eighties ; this was a specific time in Poland . I ignored it completely escaping into music and books . Catch 22 , Birdy , One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest , World according to Garp . Those are some examples from my reading list from that period . And I think one does not have to be too much insightful to see the common denominator for these readings .

World according to Garp , the most known Irving's novel narrates about this strange t
...more
Megha

"Mind you, it's awfully well written", Wolf had said, "but it's still, somehow, soap opera; it's too much, somehow." Garp had sighed. "Life,"Garp had said, "is too much, somehow. Life is an X-rated soap opera, John," Garp had said.

The world according to Garp is very much like a soap opera, full of situations and incidents that we don't usually see in real life. The world around Garp is full of craziness and absurdity. Many a times Irving stops just short of being unrealistic. While many of his s
...more
Jacob
August 2008

Quite possibly my favorite book. Irving is a master here; it's a brilliant story, and it feels more like a life than a novel--the life of T.S. Garp, not just a novel about him. Garp's world seem so true, even if, like The Hotel New Hampshire (another favorite), the story departs from a historical setting (WWII and later postwar America and Europe) and goes on to forge a unique, magical--and entirely believable--history of its own. Not many novels--and not many writers--can really do t
...more
Brendon Schrodinger
While a large portion of bibliophiles read and adored The World According To Garp during their adolescence, I was too busy reading of apocalypses brought on by green meteorites, three-pronged killer plants and the bomb. Reading it now I understand the attraction that it may have had to a teenager, but I question what a teenager would have taken away from it. Because I know that I am questioning what I have taken away from this book at my age, and I even question the motives and the meaning of t ...more
Mike
Dull, dull, dull. Boring people doing boring things. Even the sex is boring.

I've spent some time wondering whether everyone is so boring because it's the world according to Garp, and Garp himself is boring. The novel is cleverly structured (it could be a literary theorist's wet dream); Garp himself is a novelist, and shards of his work appear throughout this novel, including the third chapter of his third novel, The World According to Bensenhaver. (Excuse me if I got the name wrong). Both start
...more
Ali
This was written in 2011, and is not representative of my current output on here. Please forgive me.

(view spoiler)
...more
Holly
May 12, 2009 Holly rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: middle aged people.
I think I may be too young for this book. I've done that a few times--read a book, then later realized that I just wasn't old enough for it. Take Kerouac's On the Road , for instance. I read it in 7th grade and thought it was dumb. Of course. Everything is still black and white then--drugs are bad, you shouldn't like bad people, and I'm going to be ___________ when I grow up. However, re-reading it near the end of college, with no idea what in the hell I'm going to do and a bit more of an unders ...more
Jackie
I had heard great things about this book. It deals a lot with feminism, parental paranoia, and the challenges of career ambitions. I kept assuming this book was on the brink of something totally earth-shattering, so I kept turning the pages, and it never came.
K.D. Absolutely
Mar 01, 2014 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books (Modern Fiction), National Book Awards
Masterful storytelling. Definitely a page-turner. My first time to read a book by John Irving (born in 1942) and I am quite impressed. Well, had I read this five years ago, I would have rated this with 5 stars. It is well-written, full of interesting themes (foremost is feminism), memorable characters and events. Funny and tragic at the same time. Many images will stay in your mind after finally closing the book. However, it felt too much that in the end, it seemed: whoa, can this happen in real ...more
Glen
Prior to reading this book, I had only read half of one novel by John Irving. I'm not going to mention the title here because I don't think it's quite fair to speak ill of a book which I didn't even finish, but suffice to say that I had no immediate plans to read another half of any of his work. That changed though when a friend talked me into taking The World According to Garp on a trip that I was planning. I thought the book was fantastic, and since I have no life I'm going to spend Friday nig ...more
Scribble Orca
Recently this Very Cool GR Friend (the kind of guy you want to have around you in a fight - as in ninja-fast-kapow cool!) and I were chatting. I'd like to share with you his thoughts:

VCF: ....another of my favorite authors, John Irving, has built his whole career on writing about characters who have gone through highly similar experiences to his own. Almost every one of his books has a relationship between the main character (usually a young man, either late teens to early twenties at the start
...more
mary
i have an ongoing love affair with john irving, and it all started with this book.

i read it for the first time when i was a tad too young, and it has had a freakishly large impact on me. it is not necessarily grand or epic in any sense, and the story is ridiculous and morbid and almost fantastical with its excessive insanity. now, i want to look at it with a condescending and adultlike detachment, believing life has a much higher purpose than wading through the soap opera depicted here. but wha
...more
Noce
Il lettore prima di tutto

Non so se capita anche a voi, ma ogni tanto mi succede di leggere involontariamente una sequenza di libri, legati da qualcosa, una tematica, una situazione, un oggetto, che ricorre senza che io lo possa anticipatamente sapere, in tutte le storie. Ad esempio, negli ultimi tempi, ho letto diversi libri, e a distanza ravvicinata, dove un ruolo decisamente significativo viene ricoperto da un cane. Ne “La porta” della Szabò, c’è il cane Viola. Nel libro di Fante, “A Ovest di
...more
Teresa
"Sempre soube que a procura da perfeição é um hábito letal."

No Estranho Mundo de Garp há de tudo um pouco: escritores, feministas loucas, mães solteiras, transexuais, enfermeiras, ursos ciclistas,...
Um mundo surreal de gente excêntrica e alucinante que ama, odeia, trai,...; mutila, mata, morre,...
Episódios delirantes, divertidos e dramáticos, narrados com tal arte que, muitas vezes, chorei do que devia rir e ri do que devia chorar.

Uma saga familiar que, segundo John Irving, trata do medo dos pa
...more
Greg Zink
When I first started my plan to read all the classics, I didn't have any rules for allowing myself to quit partway through. As a result, I endured the entire 400+ pages of this book, thinking all along how I didn't really care for it. Perhaps inspired by that experience, I now allow myself to give up if I'm at least 100 pages in, which would have improved my "Garp" experience.

The first sign I should have seen that this wasn't going to be a good book was that it is "semi-autobiographical" about t
...more
Lucrezia
Premetto che in questa recensione sarò di parte , sto parlando di uno dei miei scrittori preferiti, lo scrittore che ha scritto uno dei libri che io abbia più riletto in assoluto , un libro che ha stravolto totalmente il mio modo di vedere...Ma adesso passiamo ad "Il mondo secondo Garp" .
Il mondo secondo Garp è il terzo Irving che leggo ,dopo le regole della casa del Sidro (mio grande amore)e Hotel New Hampshire , e sapevo già più o meno cosa aspettarmi, una prosa meravigliosa , scorrevole ,eppu
...more
Jen
Someone once told me that Irving has a tendency to "ramble on" in his books. That person lied. I have read two of his books now and there is no tendency to it; the man is a certifiable rambler. This is not to say that his ramblings aren't enjoyable-most of them are. They are side dishes of escapade, if you like. But, as much as I enjoyed the sides, I felt as if this book had a sort of matryoshka doll effect (But wait! There's more! Ta da! But wait! There's more! Ta da!...), literarily speaking. ...more
bonnie
Possible mild spoiler alert? I try to keep my reviews to what a "real" book review would contain - this necessitates some detail. After all, what good is a review that provides only information available on the back cover combined with "I liked it" or "I didn't"? That said, someone apparently thinks this particular review of mine contains too much. So consider yourself warned.

The book starts by explaining how Garp came to be by introducing Garp's mother, the headstrong and self-assured nurse Jen
...more
Seth
I went through an extended period in my life where I re-read this book every year(1). It's a very fun read.

You can read it as a character study, watching how Garp changes as he ages and his responsibilities mature. You can read it as an analysis of the writer's experience (the bits about Garp's writing--and especially the chapter of Garps' book The World According to Benzenhurt--are excellent). You can read it as being about his relationships, primarily with women (his mother, his wife Helen, hi
...more
Ben Babcock
I have been meaning to revisit John Irving lately. I’ve been re-reading War and Peace over this Easter break, but I wanted to take a break between each book within the novel and read something else. So I took a look at what the library had to offer for Irving, and I thought this would be a good time to re-re-read The World According to Garp. This is the first Irving novel I ever encountered. A somewhat imposing mass-market paperback of it lives somewhere in my dad’s house. It was one of that cor ...more
Laura
Wow, talk about original. Irving packs this book with freakishly oddball characters, but every one is so... knowable. They seem, if not normal, then like people whom I have met. I am in awe of Irving's ability to make characters unbelievable and believable at the same time. Similarly, this book is full of tragedy, and is simultaneously uplifting.

I was lucky to read the book before I saw the movie, mostly because my parents loved reading so much that I could read just about anything, but movies w
...more
Aili
Oh John Irving. You are a twisted man, who writes about twisted sex and violence between twisted characters who are clearly very thinly veiled versions of yourself. I hate you. The only reason I finished your book is that I am obsessive about finishing things.

But maybe I did this backwards -- I read A Widow for One Year first, and THEN WAtG. I think most folks do it the other way around. So all of the issues covered in Widow seemed re-hashed to me, or re-covered, or just basically more of the sa
...more
Adelina
Това не е книга, за която еднозначно да кажеш: "Харесвам!". Това е книга, която вълнува, отвращава, разтърсва, успокоява - всичко, което може да почувстваш в един свят, доминиран от насилие и похот. Книга, която сигурно ще ти помогне да намериш своята опорна точка, за да се опазиш от "подводната ръка".
Брутално е думата, която първа изниква, когато мисля за "Светът според Гарп". Роман за времето, в което живеем ... и оцеляваме, а е писан преди повече от тридесет години.
Към края темпото на разказа
...more
Vale
Non è facile scrivere di questo libro perché, anche se non mi è particolarmente piaciuto, riconosco che i personaggi sono seducenti (Jenny Fields, Roberta Muldoon e le Ellen-Jamesiane) e la lettura è stata piacevole. Detto questo, la storia in sè appare grottesca, naif, e a volte sembra un esercizio creativo più che un romanzo. E' una scelta voluta, infatti, all'interno del romanzo si parla di un romanzo scritto dal protagonista, Garp, che non è altro che il romanzo che si sta leggendo. C'è un p ...more
Rita
Many years ago I watched the movie that starred some of my all-time favourite actors: Glenn Close, John Lithgow and Robin Williams. I loved the movie so much that I decided to read the book (in fact, this is one of the first books that I have read as an adult), and I'm glad I did. In spite of it's ending I think that this book is the most optimistic and life-affirming book that I have ever read. I absolutely love it, and I find it hard to imagine how anyone could not love it - or at the very lea ...more
Greg
Blah, why this people love this book is beyond me. Maybe in the same way I find Seth's protagonist in It's a Good Life..., to be enduring while it's easy to see him being pretty repulsive people can find this self-absorbed character to be similarly enduring. Maybe it's a generational thing. Maybe Garp should have bought an AK-47 during this novel and gone and shot Rabbit and then turned the gun on himself. Maybe though just thinking of the book as the World According to Fart is enough.
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John Irving published his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, in 1968. The World According to Garp, which won the National Book Award in 1980, was John Irving’s fourth novel and his first international bestseller; it also became a George Roy Hill film. Tony Richardson wrote and directed the adaptation for the screen of The Hotel New Hampshire (1984). Irving’s novels are now translated into thirty ...more
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A Prayer for Owen Meany The Cider House Rules The Hotel New Hampshire A Widow for One Year The Fourth Hand

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“In this dirty minded world, you are either someone's wife or someone's whore. And if you're not either people think there is something wrong with you....but there is nothing wrong with me” 231 likes
“They were involved in that awkward procedure of getting to unknow each other.” 225 likes
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