I loved this book. The writing was beautiful. The story started out with the well worn territory of a love triangle but it took some very interesting...moreI loved this book. The writing was beautiful. The story started out with the well worn territory of a love triangle but it took some very interesting turns that made the whole story interesting and worth reading. I love Van Booy's work and highly recommend this work.(less)
I loved War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts and found this in a used bookstore so had to pick it up. As the third work in a trilogy following and expan...moreI loved War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts and found this in a used bookstore so had to pick it up. As the third work in a trilogy following and expanding upon the world of many of the same characters as Don Emmanuel's, it felt nice to read about their further exploits. The imagination displayed in creating this world and telling the stories in this trilogy is amazing! The characters are very well fleshed out and do a better job standing out as unique complete individuals than many better regarded works. The themes are familiar to much South American literature but done in a unique way that does not feel tired.
This trilogy is a fitting child of Marquez and Borges that holds it's own in the highest ranks of the Latin magical realist literature. All three make for great summer reads and are very diverting enjoyable works. (less)
I read Hotel New Hampshire for an English class when I was 16 and didn't read another Irving book book until about 24, which I think was probably abou...moreI read Hotel New Hampshire for an English class when I was 16 and didn't read another Irving book book until about 24, which I think was probably about the right time to be able to begin to truly understand and enjoy his writing. I always thought Hotel was a strange selection for 16yr-olds to read, but it was something that certainly stuck with me.
Now in my 30s, this is my fourth Irving novel and I find I enjoy them more and more as I age. His characters are fairly well fleshed out, the stories just strange enough yet real enough, and the themes just controversial enough to make you stop and think some if you are prone to do that. If not his books can come off as weird - obsessed with strange damaged characters, sex and death. So like most literature, choose your own adventure and react accordingly.
This one is interesting in that Garp is a messy flawed person in all the mundane ways everyone else is. He is trying to be a good person and take care of his family but he can be selfish, have an ego and urges that lead him to screw up. He also suffers downturns just like normal people. You get to see him and the close people surrounding him love him, be hurt by him, deal with him, etc. just like real people do. His life is just enough strange or extreme enough to entertain and not bore readers while highlighting these everyday truths.
I would certainly recommend this to people who like Irving or are looking to start reading him. This might be the most accessible of his works though I have not read Widow for One Year or some of the others yet. Of the ones I have read, Cider House is a strong pro-choice book so might not appeal to all, A Prayer for Owen Meany is a bit stranger than this, and Hotel New Hampshire is the strangest of the bunch. All have similar themes and some reoccurring motifs that will be recognizable the more you read from Irving.
I sometimes like to mix in travel books or fiction about a region when I'm traveling, especially if on the road or train in foreign countries. This on...moreI sometimes like to mix in travel books or fiction about a region when I'm traveling, especially if on the road or train in foreign countries. This one looked to fit the bill. I found it merely okay. The writing is average and the insights nothing exceptional. The experiences are certainly ones anyone traveling through places outside of their norm or comfort zone can relate to experiencing. It was interesting to hear how things have changed over time, especially as Iran and Afghanistan are not places that Westerners can easily traverse these days.
I think this work is probably fine to pass on unless one feels an urgent passionate need to read it.(less)