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The World According to Garp

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4.09  ·  Rating details ·  204,049 ratings  ·  5,469 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 riba ...more
Hardcover, 610 pages
Published April 1st 1999 by Ballantine Books (first published April 24th 1978)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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Emily
Jun 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Fabian
Feb 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Indeed there are enough freaks & sufficient eccentricity here to make this a SUPER enjoyable read. It lacks what the only other Irving novel I've read so far, "A Prayer for Owen Meany," has plenty of: principally melancholia. It deviates to a semibiography of a writer, from an incredible birth story involving a strictly asexual nurse and a vegetable (memento from the war) named Garp. The name is onomatopoeia. She becomes an early figure of the feminist movement. Hilarity ensues...

The son, Garp,
...more
Elyse  Walters
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Oh My ---I think I need to read this again........
Maybe I was on drugs the first time I read it.................(wait: I didn't do drugs --even during the 60's while living in Berkeley .....I was a straight arrow)! Maybe that was my problem........

Help.............I must read this book again!
I have my reasons --I'm leaving it at that!
Jr Bacdayan
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This broke my heart, then broke my heart a little more every time. Why did I continue? Habit, I guess. It’s damn well written even if not really a dazzling ball of a time. I always read through the pages no matter how upsetting because something better might happen, or something else. I guess in this case it paid off because, if you’re reading this, then I’ve written a review. I promised myself I’m going to write something worthwhile, but honestly I feel like this won’t live up to the sincerity, ...more
Mike
Aug 23, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Joe Valdez
My introduction to the fiction of John Irving is The World According To Garp. My familiarity with the author was limited to two film adaptations of his work that I've seen: The Cider House Rules which I recall well, and The World According To Garp, which has fled my memory. That meant I opened this book, published in 1976, with few expectations or comparisons. Stuffed with vignettes that alternate between the picturesque, risque, silly and tedious, I was often tickled by the writing and at times ...more
Helene Jeppesen
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5/5 stars.
Right from the beginning, I saw that this was going to be one of Irving's quirky masterpieces. So many weird and crazy things were happened as we followed Garp and his mother, Jenny, but each quirky thing I encountered only made me fall in love with the book even more.
"The World According to Garp" is the story of Garp who got his ear bitten off by a dog as a child. His mother is a nurse who got pregnant through very worrisome measures. The book is the story of Garp from beginning t
...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
Vanessa
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Right from the opening chapter a lot of talk of masturbation and inappropriate erections....what was I getting into? The world that Garp inhabits is a strange wonderful world full of rich peculiar characters and absurd situations. The more I delved the more I was enticed by the world of Garp. I loved parts of this more than others but what I loved I really loved. What kind of man is John Irving to write such an interesting book and character with such groundbreaking issues.

This book really has
...more
Edward Lorn
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book #4 in my John Irving Challenge, and the best one yet.

The idea that men and women are equal seems to me a basic truth. What sets us apart, medically, is our reproductive organs. Yes, you can have gender reassignment surgery, but a person born a man cannot carry a child conceived using one of that man's eggs because he doesn't produce eggs. Science has a long way to go on that advancement, if anyone is even working on it. Likewise, no person born a woman is out there fertilizing an egg with h
...more
Matthew Quann
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matthew by: Lisa Bacque
Though my life has felt rather full, time-wise, I did want to come back and say a little bit about how much I dug my first John Irving novel.

Though Dickensian is an oft-quoted descriptor, it fits The World According to Garp quite well. Aside from the eponymous lead, there's a sprawling cast that bounces all across the social, sexual, and political spectrum. There's a bevy of absurd situations that I had me eyebrow-raising at the novel's onset, but cherishing by the novel's end.

Though the novel
...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
Jackie
Sep 27, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Megha
Jun 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews

"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
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019

In the life of a man, his time is but a moment, his being an incessant flux, his sense a dim rush-light, his body a prey of worms, his soul an unquiet eddy, his fortune dark, his fame doubtful. In short, all that is body is as coursing waters, all that is of the soul as dreams and vapors.

I have a confession to make : I have great admiration and respect for the talent of John Irving, and this novel is one of the finest examples of the heights his art can reach. But I cared little for Garp and h
...more
Blair
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"The World According to Garp" was recommended to me at university by a friend, back in the olden days when there were not even any smart-phones, can you believe it?
Anyway, I started reading this masterpiece one sunny day, and by the end of the next sunny day I'd finished it, satisfied in the knowledge that I had just completed a book that deserves the accolade of masterpiece. Did I tell you I like this book?
Irving's work is nothing short of genius, and one of my three favourite books ever (the
...more
Dan
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
The first of Irving's blockbuster novels that won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1980. Be forewarned that there is a hyper-focus on sex in this book. It can be shrugged off for the most part. But he is consistent in this area and unabashedly remained true to a motif of explicitness throughout the book.

So I didn't fall in love with any of the characters. Helen, Garp's wife, is perhaps the most likable of the characters but she herself has a lot of baggage and is embroiled in several affai
...more
B Schrodinger
May 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
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
Annet
May 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Looking back, such a great book, have to re-read this one too!
K.D. Absolutely
Jun 28, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  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
BAM The Bibliomaniac
I can't finish this book. I'm really bothered by a character ummm trait? Habit? Depravity?
Holly
Jun 09, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  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 und ...more
mary
Mar 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jason Pettus
THE GREAT COMPLETIST CHALLENGE: In which I revisit older authors and attempt to read every book they ever wrote

Currently in the challenge: Margaret Atwood | Christopher Buckley | Daphne Du Maurier | Michel Houellebecq | John Irving | Kazuo Ishiguro | Shirley Jackson | Bernard Malamud | VS Naipaul | Tim Powers | Philip Roth | John Updike | Kurt Vonnegut

To kick off my career-long look at Postmodernist master John Irving, someone I'm particularly excited to read because of owning first printings of
...more
Paula Dembeck
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Irving’s fifth novel published in 1978, is one of his most brilliant. The story begins in 1942 when a young woman named Jenny Fields is twenty-two and is caring for soldiers wounded in World War II. We learn that Jenny is the heir to a family fortune but had dropped out of Wellesley and decided to become a nurse, not the usual occupation for a girl of her class or social standing. But Jenny is not a typical girl. Unlike her friends, Jenny is not especially enamored with men or with sex. She ...more
Celeste
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
Full review now posted!

Sometimes literary fiction can be stranger than fantasy. This book is a prime example of that. Man, it was weird.

I honestly haven’t been able to decide how I feel about it. I don’t remember ever struggling this much with how to rate a book. On the one hand, this was a unique story told well, with an original and unforgettable cast of characters. On the other hand, it was crude and vulgar at a level that seemed knowingly used to scandalize the reader and keep them absorbed
...more
Deacon D.
Another long overdue re-read.

I fucking love this book!
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JOHN IRVING was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942. His first novel, Setting Free the Bears, was published in 1968, when he was twenty-six. He competed as a wrestler for twenty years, and coached wrestling until he was forty-seven.
Mr. Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times—winning once, in 1980, for his novel The World According to Garp. He received an O. Henry Award
...more

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