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1. Last Night in Twisted River: A
2. A Widow for One Year (Modern Library
3. The Water-Method Man (Ballantine
4. The Fourth Hand
5. The Hotel New Hampshire (Ballantine
6. A Prayer for Owen Meany (Modern
7. A Son of the Circus (Ballantine
8. Until I Find You
9. The Imaginary Girlfriend (Ballantine
10. The World According to Garp (Modern
11. Trying to Save Piggy Sneed
12. The 158-Pound Marriage (Ballantine
13. John Irving: Three Complete Novels:
14. John Irving: A Critical Companion
15. The Cider House Rules: A Novel
16. 3 By Irving
17. My Movie Business: A Memoir
18. Prayer for Owen Meany
19. Pension Grillparzer
20. Setting Free the Bears

1. Last Night in Twisted River: A Novel
by John Irving
Paperback: 592 Pages (2010-06-15)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$8.58
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345479734
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
In 1954, in the cookhouse of a logging and sawmill settlement in northern New Hampshire, an anxious twelve-year-old boy mistakes the local constable’s girlfriend for a bear. Both the twelve-year-old and his father become fugitives, forced to run from Coos County—to Boston, to southern Vermont, to Toronto—pursued by the implacable constable. Their lone protector is a fiercely libertarian logger, once a river driver, who befriends them. In a story spanning five decades, Last Night in Twisted River depicts the recent half-century in the United States as “a living replica of Coos County, where lethal hatreds were generally permitted to run their course.” What further distinguishes Last Night in Twisted River is the author’s unmistakable voice—the inimitable voice of an accomplished storyteller.Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, October 2009: A long, delicious trip to the land of Irving is hands-down the best way to begin the month of October. A trio of tragic events (though the prize for most hell-shocking goes to the third) exiles widower and camp cook Dominic Baciagalupo and his son Danny from a mid-century logging outpost called Twisted River. They leave behind the Bunyan-esque lumberjack Ketchum--a gruff, eccentric, dyed-in-the-wool Yankee--who remains their sole connection to the past. What's next neither father nor son knows: their rootless existence moves swiftly in and out of New England, tied ostensibly to jobs for Dominic and schools for Danny, but it seems one foot is always back in those New Hampshire woods. Theirs is a restless, richly observed journey, crowned by a reckoning no one could predict. Few writers can match John Irving's knack for denouement, and in Last Night in Twisted River, his extraordinary ending is made all the more powerful by a story that feasts on language, life, and love. --Anne Bartholomew ... Read more

Customer Reviews (196)

2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I usually like John Irving's work.'Liked Garp a lot, loved Cider House Rules, but this one is tedious.I didn't develope an attachment,or even interest, in any of the characters. It just went on and on filling up page after page for way too long.Sorry, but I wouldn't recommend it as a good read.

1-0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time
I should have known better...usually, I consult Amazon reviews before buying but I was killing time at a Barnes & Noble and was intrigued by the cover image, jacket content, and Irving's pedigree.

This book is a mess. I dropped it about half way through.

Why?Cardinal sin for a writer IMHO--he fails to endear the reader to the characters.Thus, who really cares about them?

It's like the publishers were forcing Irving to write to a high word count.Rambling....e.g. how to cook a pizza his way (I make superb homemade pizza by the way and I don't need 3 pages of prose to describe it).

Jumping back and forth between time and settings...what's up with that???

No empathy/grief/shock for killin' Injun' Jane? Danny hardly shares a tear and Dominic just immediately goes about the business of disposing the body of the woman he loves (and is in carnal contortions with when she bites the proverbial bullet).

And since when do normal folks think it's OK to assasinate a viscious dog with another vicious dog as casually as if swatting a fly? Try that here and your neighbor will be pounding at your door with a shotgun but quick. (BTW--that's where I dropped the book on the floor next to bed and turned out the light).

I'm sure this book is just building up to a horrific, climatic conclusion but since I don't care what happens to these characters I can roll over and sleep like a baby.

BTW--when I read "World According to Garp" cira 1980 I had to take a day off from work to deal with the angst.

I learned my lesson and vow to never buy another book without researching reviews on Amazon first (unless, of course, I'm perusing the aisles at place like City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco).


3-0 out of 5 stars Mediocre Irving
Like many other reviewers, I have always found Mr. Irving fun to read, and I actually enjoy many of his prepostorous plot elements.However, this one meanders too much for my liking - a good editor should have cut it down to 350 pages.Also, his female characters are becoming increasingly shallow and over-sexualized.The author is starting to sound like a dirty old man.Come on, John - you're better than this!

1-0 out of 5 stars I had to struggle to finish this book.
This book was boring, repetitive and tedious.The characters, especially the women, are weakly developed.I wanted it to be good, and thought at times that it was going to be, but it just never got there.I had to make myself finish the book just out of pure stubbornness.

3-0 out of 5 stars disappointed
I have loved all of John Irving's classics: Garp, Cider House, etc.And, I enjoyed Widow and 4th Hand.However, I found Twisted River boring overall.It had a few moments when I said to myself, "Aha!There is the John Irving I enjoy", but quickly became bored again.I did finish the book and found the last 75-100 pages better than the rest of the book.
I am a bit puzzled by several of the reviewers who complained about the inclusion of 9/11 and Irving's politics.True, the 9/11 reference does not add to the story but I don't recall any political ramblings. ... Read more

2. A Widow for One Year (Modern Library of the World's Best Books)
by John Irving
Hardcover: 576 Pages (2003-05-20)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$9.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812968573
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Ruth Cole is a complex, often self-contradictory character--a "difficult" woman.  By no means is she conventionally "nice," but she will never be forgotten.

Ruth's story is told in three parts, each focusing on a crucial time in her life.  When we first meet her--on Long Island, in the summer of 1958--Ruth is only four.

The second window into Ruth's life opens in the fall of 1990, when Ruth is an unmarried woman whose personal life is not nearly as successful as her literary career.  She distrusts her judgment in men, for good reason.

A Widow for One Year closes in the autumn of 1995, when Ruth Cole is a forty-one-year-old widow and mother.  She's about to fall in love for the first time.

Richly comic, as well as deeply disturbing A Widow for One Year is a multilayered love story of astonishing emotional force.  Both ribald and erotic, it is also a brilliant novel about the passage of time and the relentlessness of grief.Amazon.com Review
John Irving's A Widow For One Year is the epic story ofa family, dysfunctional at best, unable to cope with tragedy--or witheach other. The unabridged audiobook, narrated by George Guidall(The Cat Who Sang forthe Birds, TheInner Sanctum, The Legacy) draws thelistener in with a crisp, methodical vocal presentation. Guidallportrays each character with a convincingly distinct voice, accuratelyimpersonating the characters' intonations and verbal habits. Theinteraction between characters is both conversational andbelievable.

We first meet Ruth Cole in the summer of 1958 when shewalks in on her mother having sex with 16-year-old Eddie O'Hare, theassistant to Ruth's alcoholic father. The death of Ruth's olderbrothers (years before she was born) turns her mother, Marion, into azombie who is unable to love her surviving daughter. Ted Cole is asemisuccessful writer and illustrator of disturbingly creepychildren's novels. His womanizing habits prove he's "as deceitfulas a damaged condom," but he remains the only stable figure inRuth's life. The tempestuous tale fast-forwards to the year 1990 whenRuth's soaring writing career is faring far better than her lacklusterlove life. The final segment of the novel ends in 1995 when41-year-old Ruth is ready to fall in love for the first time.

Thisprofoundly absorbing story expresses the depths of misery and thehealing power of love. Irving writes as a true storyteller, andGuidall executes the narrative with vigor and enthusiasm. (Runningtime: 24.5 hours, 14 cassettes) --Gina Kaysen ... Read more

Customer Reviews (589)

5-0 out of 5 stars John Irving makes me laugh...what more do you want?
First off, I must say that John Irving is one of the most interesting and humerus authors of our time.It would be easy to say that Widow does not stand up to Cider House or Garp.However, in my opinion this book stands up and fits in very well.Irving develops characters and plot lines very well and he is flat out funny.I have read every one of his books and this is one of my fovorites.

3-0 out of 5 stars too loooooooooooooong
I nearly bailed about half way through - found too much repetition - plot too unlikely.Not one of his better books.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Character Development
This book is definately a character study. It's well written and enjoyable to read.It takes some surprising turns and some of the characters are laid bare in a very raw and "real" way.It taps into the neediness of humanity.Not a lot of "plot" per se but definately an overall great read.

5-0 out of 5 stars I loved it!
I loved it.Irving tells a complex, quirky, fascinating story in a complex, quirky, fascinating way.You have to wrap your head around it.Thinking is required when reading John Irving.He's a master at his craft.

This story is about all the things in life we'd rather not talk about.A mother deserting her 4 year old daughter when she was unable to deal with her grief concerning the loss of two teenage sons gripped me.Eddie, a teenage boy developing a life long desire for this grieving mother never lets Marion be far from his thoughts.Ted, a womanizer with a penchant for younger women is left to raise Ruth.Ruth grows up to become a best selling author never able to let go of her anger toward her absent mother. Throw in a cop and a prostitute in the red light district in Amsterdam and the pages of this novel never stop turning.

I rated this novel 5 out of 5.It is a masterful display of the power of the written word.For me as an author, Irving is to be studied and disected.This one's a keeper.

Linda C. Wright
One Clown Short

1-0 out of 5 stars A book obviously written by a male chauvinist
(Caution: This review is full of spoilers). The book started out extremely slowly. In fact, I pushed myself through the first third of the book. Irving's writing is not very engaging. I had high hopes for this book but was truly disappointed. As I pressed on chapter through chapter, I began to understand Irving's views towards women: fickle, apathetic, slutty, convoluted, incomprehensible, overbearing, emotionless, dramatic, etc.His characters are truly one dimensional and never changing. His characters seem to be very laid back characters who take life as it attacks them and they just roll with the blows. There is no passion to this book whatsoever. There's Hannah who is an unreliable slut of a best friend to Ruth. Then there's Eddie who is still emotionally and pathetically attached to a notion of love that lasted a few weeks over the summer when he was 16. There's Ted who's a philandering husband to Marion and father to Ruth. The book is absolutely ridiculous. How many people marry for the reasons that Ruth married? Who has a child when they never imagined having a child, with no reason or explanation for this drastic change in Ruth's personality/ideologies/emotions? How are we to believe she got over her husband's death within a year of widowhood? Then went to Paris with a Dutchman she just met a day before? Then a few weeks later, he moves to the US to be with her. Then they get married months later. This book simply makes it seem that women are absolutely unpredictable - not in love, but in life. That women do things on a whim that cannot be explained nor should they try to be understood. How can Irving expect us to believe that women are so callous and forgetting of the past? Who's to believe that Marion's character can simply waltz back into their lives? This book is simply a fairytale. Nothing really holds this book together. The characters and their plots seem to have been like stuff thrown to the wall and seeing what sticks. I found this book to have extremely negative views on women and a too lighthearted view on mourning.It's completely unbelievable and absolutely infuriating to read. Thank goodness we have used bookstores we can return this type of literature to! ... Read more

3. The Water-Method Man (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by John Irving
Paperback: 288 Pages (1997-06-23)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$7.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 034541800X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The main character of John Irving's second novel, written when the author was twenty-nine, is a perpetual graduate student with a birth defect in his urinary tract--and a man on the threshold of committing himself to a second marriage that bears remarkable resemblance to his first....
"Three or four times as funny as most novels."

From the Paperback edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (48)

4-0 out of 5 stars water method man
the book was in good condition.I could not find a decent copy in any library in my town.

2-0 out of 5 stars Okay, mabye I don't get it
I read all of the wonderful reviews of this book- and after being thoroughly pleased by his much later work- Prayer for Owen Meany-I felt I surely couldn't go wrong.All I can say is "WTF?????"- and for those who don't know what that means- just look it up.This book was written in the 1960's so maybe it was the age of the psychedelic drugs that influenced the writing-but I have no idea what Irving was getting at in this book.In addition, though I'm no prude, I wouldn't dare let my wife or kids have a glance at this book- I can see it getting banned from many libraries.

4-0 out of 5 stars John Irving
This book made me laugh out loud.I don't know why this one did not get as much notoriety as some of his other works.It's a good read.

3-0 out of 5 stars My First Irving Novel
I read Water-Method Man back in 1974 upon the recommendation of a friend. I had never heard of John Irving - who had before Garp?

I started reading the first page and could not put it down. When excerpts of Garp were published in Playboy a few years later I recognized the author's name, read the excerpt and shortly bought his new novel. After Garp I went back and read the other two of his first three novels.

John Irving has remained my favorite author since then; I look forward to a new Irving novel the way I used to anticipate the release of a new Beatles album. It's a thrilling feeling.

I have not revisited WMM since my first reading thirty some odd years ago (I plan to do so this summer) but I do remember loving it cover-to-cover.

While most John Irving fans "discovered" Irving through Garp, I found that WMM is a better intro into his work, especially for younger readers. Although far from his best work it was certainly good enough to awaken me to his talent.

4-0 out of 5 stars Worth the read
I rarely hear people talk about this book when discussing John Irving, but it is definately one of my favorites. The story flows well, the characters are easy to relate to, and the story is hilarious. I highly recommend this book. ... Read more

4. The Fourth Hand
by John Irving
Paperback: 316 Pages (2002-05)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$2.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345449347
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
While reporting a story from India, New York journalist Patrick Wallingford inadvertently becomes his own headline when his left hand is eaten by a lion. In Boston, a renowned surgeon eagerly awaits the opportunity to perform the nation’s first hand transplant. But what if the donor’s widow demands visitation rights with the hand? In answering this unexpected question, John Irving has written a novel that is by turns brilliantly comic and emotionally moving, offering a penetrating look at the power of second chances and the will to change.Amazon.com Review
Like anything newsworthy, miracles of medicine and technology inevitablymake their way out of the headlines and become the stuff of fiction. Inrecent years readers have been absorbed by media accounts of a transplantedhand, an experiment that ultimately ended in amputation. Medical ethicistsreason that a hand, unlike a heart or a liver--essential organsconveniently housed out of sight--is in full view and one of a pair,arguably dispensable. In his 10th novel, however, John Irving undertakes toimagine just such a transplant, which involves a donor, a recipient, asurgeon, a particular Green Bay Packer fan, and the remarkable left handthat brings them together.

Television reporter Patrick Wallingford becomes a story himself when heloses his hand to a caged lion while in India covering a circus. The momentis captured live on film, and Patrick (who wears a "perpetual but dismayingsmile--the look of someone who knows he's met you before but can't recallthe exact occasion") is henceforth known as the lion guy. Before long,plans are made to equip Patrick with a new hand. Doctor Nicholas M. Zajac,superstar surgeon, indefatigable dog-poop scooper, runner, and part-timefather, is poised to perform the operation. But the donor--or rather thewidow of the donor--has a few stipulations. Doris Clausen wants to meet theone-handed reporter before the procedure, and insists on visitation rightsafterward. Irving weaves these characters and a panoply of others togetherin a smart, funny, readable narrative. Often farcical, The FourthHand is ultimately something more: a tender chronicle of the redemptivepower of love. --Victoria Jenkins ... Read more

Customer Reviews (287)

3-0 out of 5 stars Not the best work from an exceptionally gifted author
As with many of the other reviewers, I adore John Irving's novels and would happily include both 'Garp' and 'Cider House Rules' in my top ten favorite books of all time.

Unfortunately, 'The Fourth Hand' just didn't come together in a cohesive way.The story was very disjointed and the characters didn't have nearly as much depth as I am used to from a John Irving tale.There were some good moments, and the writing "style" was top notch of course - but it was like a stand up comedian who only knows one joke. It's a funny joke, but the act goes on and everything else in the comedian's performance refers back to the one opening joke.

The main character, a handsome newsman named Patrick Wallingford, was believable but I had a hard time feeling any empathy for him or his situation. The doctor who performs the hand transplant surgery, Dr. Nicholas Zajac, had a long introduction that went into all his very odd personal peculiarities (which are hallmarks of many John Irving stories) but in the end, he never really adds anything to the plot. The woman who Patrick falls in love with, Mrs. Doris Clausen, was very manipulative and unlikable. The best character in the book was the doorman, Vlad (or Vlade or Lewis) who keeps mistaking Patrick for a famous baseball player.

There are two loooong chapters which comprise the final third of the book. I kept waiting for some strange twist which would take the story in a new direction, give it some meaning, or provide some sort of surprise ending that would make it worthwhile. But there was none - the story just concludes as you expect it to. It's a very neat and tidy ending but not what I have come to expect from one of my favorite authors.

3-0 out of 5 stars Oddly good
What an odd, unlikely premise for a book.

Notwithstanding the creative angle re: the hand, the Fourth Hand employs elements common in most of Mr. Irving's books, dealing with loss, maternity, paternity, sexual themes, and a protagonist who has talents, but who is also woefully immature in his personal life.

While the book is uneven (it drags at times; soars at others), I really appreciated how Mr. Irving took me along paths I hadn't anticipated at all.The best scene in the book is when Pat and Angie get together at Pat's place. Completely over the top.

Satisfying ending.

It doesn't touch what I believe to be Mr. Irving's masterpiece: A Prayer for Owen Meany. But how many of those can an author produce in a lifetime? The Fourth Hand is a good read.

2-0 out of 5 stars The Fourth Hand: TMI
Title:The Fourth Hand by John Irving

Pages: 352

Time spent on the "to read" shelf: 2 years.

Days spent reading it: 2 days.

Why I read it: I liked other John Irving novels (A Prayer for Owen Meany is incredible). So I thought I'd give this a try.

Brief review: Ok, I feel like I need to review this book by saying two things. First, John Irving is an incredible story teller. He draws you right into his world. The narrative is smooth. He is a natural story teller. No doubt about it.

Having said that, the second piece of information about this book is: The Fourth Hand could have been a Harlequin Romance novel. There were more adult situations in this book than I am comfortable admitting I read. I cannot ever recommend this book to anyone based on the content alone.

The main character (his name is Patrick), loses his hand to a lion at the beginning of the novel. He becomes the recipient of a hand transplant, but the oddities increase when the wife of the (deceased) hand donor wants to visit the hand. It could have been interesting. Instead it was trash. Patrick is a jerk that has a ridiculous power over women. They all want to sleep with him, and he lets them. He has no real morals. I'd call him reprehensible. And he does not seem to change very much through the book. Alright, so he does a little by the end, but I don't buy the change. It is forced and not very consistent with the character.

So, what I am basically telling you is avoid this book. Sure, it's well written, but the content is trash. John Irving should know better.

Favorite quote: "You can never exactly imitate someone else's love of a movie or a book, Patrick now believed."

Stars: 2 out of 5.

Final Word: TMI.

3-0 out of 5 stars Echoes, Only, of Irving's Earlier Novels
While the novel has echoes of the humor and originality found in Irving's early books, it is just not very engaging.About mid book, Patrick's depth as a person begins to develop, and my interest increased.Then came the one night stand with the makeup girl, and the book's momentum was lost.

I did appreciate Irving's swipes at the 24 hour news networks, especially at the concept of "closure".

3-0 out of 5 stars A Feeling Like a Phantom Limb
THE FOURTH HAND is rather pedestrian for John Irving.It seems to be missing something, some larger emotional arc, that is typically found in his novels.True, this book is Irving's second shortest.But his other books are quite large.At about 350 pages, there was still plenty of space for Irving to give us more to which we could emotionally attach (and, of course, any space limitations which prevented the development of such an overarching emotional context were completely of Irving's own making).

The result is a book that, while enjoyable as a story, fails at taking its place among Irving's best (A WIDOW FOR ONE YEAR, A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY) or even his second tier (THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, A SON OF THE CIRCUS).It is an enjoyable book while reading it, but will not likely be the source of pleasant literary memories, or really any memories at all.

Patrick Wallingford, a television reporter, is the recipient of a hand transplant after he loses one of his own in a bizarre incident, on live TV no less, the likes of which Irving often uses as a catalyst for some plot twist.That transplant brings Wallingford together with a Wisconsin woman, Doris Clausen, whose fanaticism for the Green Bay Packers is akin to the passion Irving usually reserves for his fictitious wresters in so many of his other works.The relationship between the two forms the backbone of the novel.

As a main character, Wallingford is rather bland.He just does not have those depths of character, those idiosyncrasies, that made Garp or Owen Meany stay with us after we were done with the books in which they came alive.Wallingford is more two-dimensional.In time, many readers will probably have little concrete memories to reconnect with Wallingford while thinking of this book, and will instead experience that generic feeling of merely liking the book without really remembering any details of its inhabitants.

Irving is well known for populating his novels with quirky characters.There is always the danger in doing so, as such quirks can come off just seeming kind of stupid and contrived.In THE FOURTH HAND, Irving crosses that line for several characters, most conspicuously the surgeon Zajac and his really quite inane relationship with his dog.

Irving at his best is very good.THE FOURTH HAND is not his best.While true Irving fans will read anything by the man (and, indeed, this book is not necessarily bad), for those who do not want to read the entire Irving collection, they should leave this one on the shelf.
... Read more

5. The Hotel New Hampshire (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by John Irving
Paperback: 432 Pages (1997-06-23)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$7.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 034541795X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
"The first of my father's illusions was that bears could survive the life lived by human beings, and the second was that human beings could survive a life led in hotels."

So says John Berry, son of a hapless dreamer, brother to a cadre of eccentric siblings, and chronicler of the lives lived, the loves experienced, the deaths met, and the myriad strange and wonderful times encountered by the family Berry. Hoteliers, pet-bear owners, friends of Freud (the animal trainer and vaudevillian, that is), and playthings of mad fate, they "dream on" in a funny, sad, outrageous, and moving novel by the remarkable author of A Widow for One Year and The Cider House Rules.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (99)

5-0 out of 5 stars Eccentric and Entertaining.
I first read this book many years ago when I was a teenager and I loved it. It is completely off the wall and eccentric while having a great storyline which covers different countries, different hotels (more Twin Peaks than Travelodges) and has a unforgettable family who are extremely normal in many ways but utterly unique and entertaining.
What I remembered loving about this book was it seemed to echo real life. Childhood seems to go on for ages, uneventful and then BAM some lifechanging experience happens and you are off down a different road. The shocks and events keep happening and are really extreme in many ways but it is a great family saga.
This is the only book so far I've ever read twice - so many books, so little time but after reading some relatively turgid books ('The Hour I First Believed' and 'Northern Clemency') it was really great to read a book which actually entertains again rather than being 'worthy' and dull.
I don't think you could ever call this book dull and the adult characters who I found less interesting years ago are now what I most enjoyed about the book. This is a wonderful story which deserves to be read more than once. If you want an original read which packs in lots of characters, history, family life, and exceptional events in a higly entertaining way then this is the book for you!
If you are wondering why there is an odd looking black dog on the front of this cover to give you a taste of this novel that is the family dog Sorrow who is put to sleep in old age because of his flatulence, he is then stuffed in a taxidermy experient by the oldest son. He causes a death. He catches on fire, is remodelled and finally ends up in the Ocean floating. He is only a very, very minor character in the story and a lot more happens to everyone else including the bears,
Anyone looking at the cover and thinking this would be a black dog, depression type story would be completely wrong.
Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Touching and Funny
In my opinion, this is some of Irving's best work.Bears, Vienna, a real sense of New England, and some hookers.I love the way that Irving's books, this one in particular, manage to make me laugh out loud and also to feel very deeply for all the characters.There are unexpected twists and surprises, heartbreaking acts, and humorous events.The Berry family feels real to me - the kind of wacky family I didn't grow up in and (sort of) wish I had.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Atypical New England Family
The story of an interesting, dysfunctional family filled with eccentric characters. I enjoyed it very much.

1-0 out of 5 stars Not funny
I have read a few Irving books and enjoyed them, especially Garp and Ciderhouse Rules.This however, was horrible.I did not find it amusing in the least.Instead, it was extremely uncomfortable and redundant.I admire Irving for trying but in reality there in no way to make gang rape and incest funny.

5-0 out of 5 stars wonderful writer
i love his style of writing. liked this book 'almost' as much as The World According to Garp. ... Read more

6. A Prayer for Owen Meany (Modern Library)
by John Irving
Hardcover: 672 Pages (2002-06-04)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$14.56
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679642595
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy’s mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn’t believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God’s instrument. What happens to Owen, after that 1953 foul ball, is extraordinary and terrifying.

A Prayer for Owen Meany was first published in 1989. This Modern Library edition includes a new Introduction by the author.Amazon.com Review
Owen Meany is a dwarfish boy with a strange voice whoaccidentally kills his best friend's mom with a baseball andbelieves--accurately--that he is an instrument of God, to be redeemedby martyrdom. John Irving's novel, which inspired the 1998 Jim Carreymovie Simon Birch, is his most popular book in Britain, andperhaps the oddest Christian mystic novel since Flannery O'Connor'swork. Irving fans will find much that is familiar: the New Englandprep-school-town setting, symbolic amputations of man and beast, theGarp-like unknownfather of the narrator (Owen's orphaned best friend), the roughcomedy. The scene of doltish the doltish headmaster driving a trashedVW down the school's marble staircase is a marvelous set piece. So arethe Christmas pageants Owen stars in. But it's all, asHighlights magazine used to put it, "fun with a purpose."WhenOwen plays baby Jesus in the pageants, and glimpses a tombstone withhis death date while enacting A Christmas Carol, the slapstickdoesn't cancel the fact that he was born to be martyred. Thebook's countless subplots add up to a moral argument, specifically anindictment of American foreign policy--from Vietnam to theContras.

The book's mystic religiosity is steeped in Robertson Davies's Deptford trilogy, and thefatal baseball relates to the fatefully misdirected snowball in thefirst Deptford novel, FifthBusiness. Tiny, symbolic Owen echoes the hero of Irving'steacher Günter Grass's The Tin Drum--thetwo characters share the same initials. A rollicking entertainment,Owen Meany is also a meditation on literature, history, andGod. --Tim Appelo ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1114)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Exceptional Modern Classic
It is no wonder that this book is a modern classic.Irving has created one of the most memorable and inspired characters in literature with Owen Meany.Of course, there are half a dozen other brilliantly developed characters including narrator Johnny Wheelwright, Owen's best friend and most fervent defender.Growing up in New England in the 50's & 60's, the lives of Johnny and Owen are intertwined by events that most would judge coincidental but which Owen views as predestined, including the death of Johnny's mother by a foul ball hit by Owen.As they grow older, Owen becomes more zealous in his supposition that he is an instrument of God and visions of his own death convince him that his martyrdom is inevitable.While faith is a core theme of this book, it is not an vehicle for religious convictions.It is simply the story of an exceptional boy whose own faith is more a part of his being than most people.

Johnny narrates from Toronto in 1987 where he has made a life for himself and reflects on his relationship with Owen.At first the capitalization of Owen's dialogue seems a distracting device, but after 100 pages, it is distinctively Owen's voice and I couldn't imagine it any other way.There are so many funny anecdotes that make Owen's life seem like a tragic comedy and his clever sagacity, tiny figure and unchanging falsetto voice make him one of the most endearing protagonist I've ever encountered.While readers may have different opinions regarding Owen's messianic significance, I believed him to be more of a prophet of his own destiny than a Christ-figure.Regardless, this book encouraged contemplation, it made me laugh, and it has become one of my favorites.

5-0 out of 5 stars A novel about faith, friendship, and writing novels
Owen Meany is a small child, with a loud voice, who accidently kills his best friend's mother (his best friend is the narrator) when he gets his one and only at bat in a losing little league game. In high school, he develops a fixation with dunking a basketball, and recruits his best friend to endlessly practice giving him a boost so that he can reliably dunk in under 3 seconds. Each of these seemingly eccentric character traits is woven together with a plethora of details to give both Owen and the narrator fully fleshed out personalities--which make the reader care deeply about them both.

In the end, each of these simple building blocks of Owen's character figure prominently in the penultimate scene of the novel. In the world Irving creates, all is predestined (by God), but not necessarily in the way Owen, or anyone else, thought. In the "real world" of the reader, these character traits are superb examples of foreshadowing--a literary device discussed by our narrator (in the context of Hardy, of all writers), who ends up as an English teacher in Canada.

Mixed into all of this is a sharp critique of US foreign policy--particularly in Vietnam.

Superbly written, great characters, and a great story.

4-0 out of 5 stars What would happen if Charles Dickens watched Lost? "A Prayer for Owen Meany"
"A Prayer for Owen Meany" is a sprawling, Dickensian tale of modern day miracles set in a small town in New England over the course of the 50's and 60's.It follows a pair of boys named John Wheelwright and Owen Meany.Owen is born tiny and has a larynx issue that causes him to talk in a high, shrill voice, and over the course of the novel becomes a sort of prophetic martyr whose actions influence the lives of those around him in vastly different ways.John serves as the stories narrator and is a much more standard character, calling himself "just a Joseph" after playing the role of Joseph in a Christmas pageant because he serves the same role: a sort of grounded character surrounded by much more miraculous people.
John narrates the story from 1987, jumping back and forth between past and present events. The present narrative often involves angry diatribes about the Reagan administration, who John claims has "numbed America."I always felt these parts were Irving voicing his own complaints which was somewhat irritating, but the events of the past narrative flesh out the character of John so his anger makes more sense as the novel progresses.
The past narrative follows a slow and methodical pace in which Irving provides a compelling mixture of action, characterization, and foreshadowing.The events of the narration are not told chronologically so the background and motives of characters is often explained after significant plot development.Anyone who was a fan of the show "Lost" when it was on television will be familiar with this flashback form of storytelling and how it contributes to the pacing of the narrative.
Also similar to "Lost" are the themes of fate, predestination, and miracles within a modern context.Irving is much more up front about actual direct Christian references than the writers of "Lost" though and, having little interest in this facet of Christianity, I was worried about the novel going too spiritual for my tastes. While I found some of the novels many miraculous events a little too blunt and over the top, Irving's ability to tie up the many loose ends and details created a setting that was grandiose yet believable. The setting allowed me to feel better about these miraculous happenings once they had ample context.
While having its outrageous moments, "A Prayer for Owen Meany" delivers a complex, sprawling, and well thought out narrative that is well worth the read.

5-0 out of 5 stars "A Prayer for Owen Meany"
One of my very favorite books, partially because of the time period, but primarily because of the mix of serious topics with humor and mischief.A fabulous read!

3-0 out of 5 stars Quite good
The middle section of the book (150 pages or so) seemed to go on and on, and I found it extremely hard to keep going. I did, though, and the last couple of hundred pages were quite a good read. There's a very good punchline on the last couple of pages. ... Read more

7. A Son of the Circus (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by John Irving
Paperback: 672 Pages (1997-06-23)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$5.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345417992
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A Hindi film star . . . an American missionary . . . twins separated at birth . . . a dwarf chauffeur . . . a serial killer . . . all are on a collision course. In the tradition of A Prayer for Owen Meany, Irving's characters transcend nationality. They are misfits--coming from everywhere, belonging nowhere. Set almost entirely in India, this is John Irving's most ambitious novel and a major publishing event. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (110)

2-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Story, Terrible Ebook.
This was easily the worst ebook I've purchased.The punctuation was terrible and there were consistent typos throughout the entire book.It was frustrating and distracting to read such a fantastic story rewritten in such a slipshod manner.Do not waste you time and money on this edition; do youself a favor and savor this enjoyable novel in hard copy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic John Irving, over-the-top and yet still literary...
John Irving has the ability to make a plot worthy of Jerry Springer still feel like a literary masterpiece. This book is easy to read, long, satisfying, amusing, whimsical, and it shows a certain degree of chutzpah (or arrogance) for a wealthy white author to tackle the messy human conundrum that is India. He can only do it by maintaining that laugh-or-you-will-cry bittersweet tone that he does so very well. That slightly laughing tone pours all over the book to smooth out its jagged edges. I was appropriately uncomfortable on almost every page as the author laid out India in all its quirky and religiously saturated poverty-level wonder of squalor and stink. The main character (whom I miss now that the book is finished, like a departed friend) is an excellent vehicle for mixing in a sort of fondness for India "despite everything." In fact, one of the driving themes in the book is that it's tough not to deeply love India... in spite of its filth and constant circus-like insanity. Great book. After you read it, tell me, did I just give away the title? ;)

5-0 out of 5 stars My first Irving novel and I'm hooked!
I drive 4-6 hours each day commuting 137 miles to work in Los Angeles from home in San Diego, so I have lots of time on my hands and lots of traffic stress.I started listening to books on my MP3 player on my Garmin Nuvi about 6 months ago, and it has relaxed me, slowed my driving, and enriched my life in general.

I just finished Irving's Son of a Circus this morning, and I am so sad that I have nothing more to hear about these wonderful characters.I feel as if I know them all personally.Irving is a master at characterization.

I found myself driving slower just to increase my listening time.I think the book was about 26 hours long, which is about one week of commuting to me.

Having never been out of the states except to Tijuana and to Calgary on business trips about 20 years ago, this book opened my eyes to other cultures.I was engrossed by his descriptions of life in India, so that now I have a completely difference impression of that country than what I had before -- a much higher favorable impression I might add.

I now will buy more Irving novels to listen too, and I hope they are as interesting as this one was to me.The people who thought it was too long and boring must be very shallow and addicted to this modern-day sound-bite world.Relax and slow down and appreciate the real world.

Thank you John Irving for writing this book!

4-0 out of 5 stars An unexpected delight
It took me three attempts to make it through this one--but I'm sure glad I didn't give up. I suppose a bit of a departure from form is good for a novelist every now and then, and although this is not a typical John Irving novel with respect to characters or setting, the themes and the plot are exactly what you'd expect from Irving. I enjoyed it, once I accepted the "differences," and even though it is not one of my favorite John Irving novels, it is definitely well written and very enjoyable. He delves into the theme of sexual eccentricity quite deeply here--a central plot development concerns hijras (third-gender Indian "eunuchs") and a transgender villain, and two of the main characters are separated-at-birth twins of indeterminate paternity, ethnicity, and sexual orientation--and, par for the course with an Irving novel, there is a midget (but no bears). Even though the first few chapters might be a struggle, stick with this one.

4-0 out of 5 stars The world has enough for everybody's need but not enough for everybody's greed
I will never forget some citations in this book, as: The world has enough for everybody's need but not enough for everybody's greed, or: immigrants remain immigrants forever anywhere and anytime as seen by the locals. The most important thing that theses sentences work as as a summarized conclusion in every occasion in this book. And there are many of them like this. In comparison to other "Absolutists" Irwing admit on the first pages of his book: I don not know India! I think that Irwing had succeeded in writing a very nice book in describing the emotional world of many people who lives-between and in many worlds, which are categorized as my-culture and your-own-culture! ... Read more

8. Until I Find You
by John Irving
Paperback: 848 Pages (2006-05-30)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$3.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345479726
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Until I Find You is the story of the actor Jack Burns – his life, loves, celebrity and astonishing search for the truth about his parents.

When he is four years old, Jack travels with his mother Alice, a tattoo artist, to several North Sea ports in search of his father, William Burns. From Copenhagen to Amsterdam, William, a brilliant church organist and profligate womanizer, is always a step ahead – has always just departed in a wave of scandal, with a new tattoo somewhere on his body from a local master or “scratcher.”

Alice and Jack abandon their quest, and Jack is educated at schools in Canada and New England – including, tellingly, a girls’ school in Toronto. His real education consists of his relationships with older women – from Emma Oastler, who initiates him into erotic life, to the girls of St. Hilda’s, with whom he first appears on stage, to the abusive Mrs. Machado, whom he first meets when sent to learn wrestling at a local gym.

Too much happens in this expansive, eventful novel to possibly summarize it all. Emma and Jack move to Los Angeles, where Emma becomes a successful novelist and Jack a promising actor. A host of eccentric minor characters memorably come and go, including Jack’s hilariously confused teacher the Wurtz; Michelle Maher, the girlfriend he will never forget; and a precocious child Jack finds in the back of an Audi in a restaurant parking lot. We learn about tattoo addiction and movie cross-dressing, “sleeping in the needles” and the cure for cauliflower ears. And John Irving renders his protagonist’s unusual rise through Hollywood with the same vivid detail and range of emotions he gives to the organ music Jack hears as a child in European churches. This is an absorbing and moving book about obsession and loss, truth and storytelling, the signs we carry on us and inside us, the traces we can’t get rid of.

Jack has always lived in the shadow of his absent father. But as he grows older – and when his mother dies – he starts to doubt the portrait of his father’s character she painted for him when he was a child. This is the cue for a second journey around Europe in search of his father, from Edinburgh to Switzerland, towards a conclusion of great emotional force.

A melancholy tale of deception, Until I Find You is also a swaggering comic novel, a giant tapestry of life’s hopes. It is a masterpiece to compare with John Irving’s great novels, and restates the author’s claim to be considered the most glorious, comic, moving novelist at work today.

From the Hardcover edition.Amazon.com Review
At over 800 pages, John Irving's Until I Find You is a daunting proposition at best.Anyone who finishes it will have acquired forearm muscles, sore shoulders, and not much else. The story is self-indulgent, repetitive and, ultimately, boring, that cardinal sin that readers can't forgive. Longtime Irving readers have stayed with him through a few hits and a miss or two, but this is an all-time low. We are accustomed to Irving's work as quirky, bizarre, and off-the-wall and have forgiven all by calling such high-jinks and characters "imaginative" or "absolutely original."The only thing original about this tome is the descent into soft porn.

Jack Burns, the hero ofthe tale, is four years old when it all begins.He is the illegitimate son of Daughter Alice, a tattoo artist and, guess what, daughter of a tattoo artist. She takes Jack on a pilgrimage to find his womanizing father, William, a church organist and "ink addict."By seeking out church organs and tattoo parlors, she expects to find him. She doesn't, and by now we have spent more than a hundred pages in Northern European cities doing an imitation of Groundhog Day. Same story, different day: a little prostitution for Alice, a few questions asked; alas, no daddy.

Alice and Jack return to Toronto so that Jack may enter a previously all-girls school, which will admit little boys for the first time.There begins another 200 pages of the girls and the teachers abusing Jack, over and over again.By now, he is five and is, for some unfathomable reason, eminently interesting to girls and women.His "friend" Emma keeps careful track of "the little guy," as she calls Jack's penis, looking for signs of life.The worst part of all this is that none of it is funny or sad or even clever.There are wrestling vignettes, of course, and prep school tedium, but no bears.Maybe bears would have saved it.There were funny parts in The World According to Garp and The Cider House Rules as well as poignant, horrific parts in both of those and other Irving novels. This story is flat. The voice never changes; it just drones on.

Jack becomes an actor. First, he is a boy in drag because he is so pretty, then he takes transvestite parts. He and Emma, now a published novelist, live together in LA, which provides endless opportunity for name-dropping.His career eventually takes off and he gets recognition and awards, but still no daddy.Irving, it turns out, never knew his father, either. Perhaps this exercise will exorcise that demon once and for all and Irving's next book will be about something more compelling than a little boy's penis and his trashy mother's antics. If you do make it through to the book's snapper of an ending, you deserve to find out what it is on your own.Call it a reward.--Valerie Ryan ... Read more

Customer Reviews (278)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Superb Story
The story of Jack Burns opens in 1970 when he is four years old and is being dragged by in his mother Alice, a Scottish tattoo artist, who herself is the daughter of a famous tattoo artist, around North Sea towns, looking for his father William, who has abandoned them. William is an ink junkie (tattoo addict) who is a very gifted church organist and Alice believes if she keeps checking tattoo parlors, she'll eventually come across him.

However, they don't find him and they settle in Canada, where Alice enrolls Jack in a private girl's school in Toronto. Jack, whose first sexual experience was with a forty-year-old baby sitter when he was ten, is going to find older girls and women here to further his sexual education. Here he also meets someone who will be his lifelong friend. In fact Emma Oastler, an older girl, is the first person to fall asleep with Jack with a hand wrapped around his penis. She won't be the last. Jack likes to keep the "little guy" happy.

Meanwhile, while Jack is making love to Emma, his mother is making love with her mother, while Jack is taking wrestling lessons to toughen him up, as he is slight of build. His wrestling teacher is a forty-year-old Portuguese woman, and did I say that Jack likes older woman, if I didn't, he does and, of course, he has an affair, but one wonders (at least I did) who is using who.

And then there is William, who has every part of his body, save for his hands and penis, tattooed. Why is Alice really looking for him? And what is Alice really up to during that search for him? How does she earn her money? And what will Jack, who eventually winds up as a famous actor, do when he finds out?

Jack will find the answers to these questions and he will also find that fame and fortune do not guarantee happiness in this tale that is one of Mr. Irving's best. It is absolutely amazing how he can just keep getting better. The World According to Garp was just about the best book ever written, Setting Free the Bears and A Prayer for Owen Meany too. This tops those, really, hard as it is to believe.

5-0 out of 5 stars I Adored This Book!
And I am simply stunned that this book has not been more well received and reviewed.

This is the 4th John Irving novel I've read and this was as amazing as all the others (maybe even my favorite so far). I adored this book, every page.Do yourself a favor and ignore all the negative reviews and read this book.....if you love to read you will be glad you did.

Mr. Irving has become my favorite contemporary author. I am only disappointed that all of Mr. Irving's novels aren't (yet) available on Kindle, which is the only way I read now.

1-0 out of 5 stars Until I find You, by John Irving
This was truly one of the most disgusting, perverted, and outlandish books I've read.None of the characters had redeeming qualities, the story line was ridiculous and didn't hold together, and the book should have been edited from 800+ pages to 150 pages.Don't read the book; it's not worth doing so.This is another John Irving book focusing on perverted sex, prostitutes and ridiculous story lines.Until I Find You

1-0 out of 5 stars The Edge
I can feel the hackles on the back of my neck rise as I read another sentence about Jack's penis.Right now it is mostly about how big it is, and since he is a small boy the penis doesn'tget very large.Right now at the point I am in this book everyone he knows at least every female, is concerned about Jack's penis to the exclusion of anything else.Everyone wants to touch it, pet it, and at least see it.Jack lets anyone who asks him, have a look.The girls at the all girl's school he is going to, are all as obsessed with sex and in particular Jack's penis as Jack is.Every other sentence begins with Jack's penis did this or it did that.It got hard or it touched something. This is all going on when he is between the ages of five through ten.Why do I hate and resent the place where John Irving is taking me in his imagination?When we read novels we submit our thoughts to the will of the novelist, and most of the time we allow ourselves to be lead to whatever place he wishes to take us.In the first section of the book I was very interested in where John Irving was taking me, but when Jack starts school I find that Irving can't get off the subject of Jack's penis.I don't find it that interesting.I don't believe in Jack.Even in the beginning when Jack seemed overly precocious I found it difficult to believe in him, but I could suspend my disbelief, which is something I have often done in a John Irving novel.I was willing follower in " A Prayer for Owen Meany", "The World According to Garp" and "Hotel New Hampshire" but eventually I got tired of following Irving to the same New England boys prep school, the same wrestling team, and the obligatory taxidermy tale, and I stopped reading him until I picked up this book "Until I Find You". I had hoped the next part of the book when he goes to the boy's school in Maine would move to another topic, but so far there is no other topic in this book other then Jack's penis, and finally I have decided to revolt against Irving's leadership on my thoughts and put the book down and even write down that this book is sickening. Perhaps Irving wished to revisit Nabokov's foray into pedophilia, from another angle, but I just can't accept the premise that he begins with in this novel.Perhaps it will explain itself at some point and indeed this is one of the reason's I continued to read after it started going in such a tasteless direction, but I'm done with it.
I have followed Irving about as loyally as I have any author. Once upon a time long long ago, I worked for the State Highway Department during the Summer while I was going to college.While I was there I discovered a large stash of pornographic magazines at the garage where we gathered in the mornings to await direction from the higher authorities. I spent a lot of time reading these magazines, one of the more famous story tellers wasXaviera Hollander of "The Happy Hooker" fame tell enthralling tales of her exploits, but one story about a woman who gets captured by a weird rapist did not seem like pornography to me. Later I read the same story in "The World According to Garp" in which Garp writes this story and sends to a Pornographic publisher, because he says the story is awful.After reading this in "Garp" it was like I knew something intimate about the inner workings of John Irving's mind. I didn't think Irving had written a pornographic story, but Irving thought it might be.There was some confusion of understanding in John about where the boundaries exist about what is pornography andwhat isn't.I'm sure we all wonder exactly where to draw that line.I think he is exploring that line again. And still I don't think he has written anything of a pornographic nature for me, I am suspicious that he is trying to reach that person who is indeed as obsessed with the idea of little boy's penises as he, John Irvingseems to be in this novel. All I can say is that I can't read any more of it, and I can't see how at some point that the novel or even John Irving can find redemption and so I give up.This just isn't my kind of read.

5-0 out of 5 stars His Audience of One
Maybe the symbolic reference throughout this book of the main character's "audience of one" refers to me, as I appear to be perhaps the only person who enjoyed this novel. Seriously, I found this story to be captivating in regard to how when Jack needed to dig deep to get into character as an actor he would use the image of his absent father for inspiration. I also enjoyed the symbolism of tatoos and wrestling interwoven in the plot. His relationship with Emma and her mother is typical Irving, but in a good way. I didn't think I'd like this novel as I was initially turned off by 900 pages about a tatoo adict. But the story kept me hooked, and two years after reading this book I am wondering how I enjoyed this quirky story so much only to hate his new novel, Last Night in a Twisted River. ... Read more

9. The Imaginary Girlfriend (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by John Irving
Paperback: 192 Pages (2002-12-03)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$2.44
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345458265
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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The Imaginary Girlfriend is a miniature autobiography detailing Irving’s parallel careers of writing and wrestling. . . . Tales of encounters with writers (John Cheever, Nelson Algren, Kurt Vonnegut) are intertwined with those about his wrestling teammates and coaches. With humor and compassion, [Irving] details the few truly important lessons he learned about writing. . . . And in beefing up his narrative with anecdotes that are every bit as hilarious as the antics in his novels, Irving combines the lessons of both obsessions (wrestling and writing) . . . into a somber reflection on the importance of living well.”
The Denver Post ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

3-0 out of 5 stars Irving again...
Good stories but all memory...and I'm not too interested in his wresting days (or any ones for that matter)

2-0 out of 5 stars Real Life
I loved reading about Irving's real life.He is by far my favorite author of all time, so I found it quite comforting to read that he is just as normal as the rest of us!
Some of the details were boring- but what auto-biography isn't?

3-0 out of 5 stars An Unimagined Girlfriend
I am a tremendous fan of John Irving but I found this slight writing about those who inspired him uninspiring.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Irving's best work.
I expected more from this book.Irving's memoir is sorely disappointing in comparison to his novels.It's not BAD, it's just not written with the same level of complexity and interest found in his fiction.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not one of Irving's best
I am a big John Irving fan and have read almost all of his novels.This book was a big disappointment for me, though.Rather than deeply delve into the events and people who shaped his writing, Irving provides perfunctory descriptions of the major events in his life as a writer and wrestler.He devotes much more attention to the scores of every wrestling match he ever took part in than to details regarding the process of crafting his novels.For wrestling fans, this book might be just what you are looking for; for others, I would skip it and re-read Garp. ... Read more

10. The World According to Garp (Modern Library)
by John Irving
Hardcover: 720 Pages (1998-04-20)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$13.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679603069
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The World According to Garp is a comicand compassionate coming-of-age novel that established John Irving as one of the most imaginative writers of his generation. A worldwide bestseller
since its publication in 1978, Irving's classic is filled with stories inside stories about the life and times of T. S. Garp, novelist and bastard son of Jenny Fields--a feminist leader ahead of her time. Beyond that, The World According to Garp virtually defies
----"Nothing in contemporary fiction matches it," said critic Terrence Des Pres. "Irving's blend of gravity and play is unique, audacious, almost blasphemous. . . . Friendship, marriage and family are his primary themes, but at that blundering level of life where mishap and folly--something close to joyful malice--perpetually intrude and disrupt, often fatally. Life, in Irving's fiction, is always under siege." Time magazine commented: "Irving's popularity is not hard to understand. His world is really the world according to nearly everyone."
----This Modern Library edition includes a new Introduction by the author.

The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hardbound editons of impor-tant works of literature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House
redesigned the series, restoring
as its emblem the running torchbearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inaugurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices.

Amazon.com Review
"Garp was a natural storyteller," says the narratorof John Irving's incandescent novel, referring to the book's hero, thenovelist Garp, who has much in common with Irving himself. "Hecould make things up one right after the other, and they seemed tofit."

Irving packs wild characters and weird events into hisclassic--officially recognized as such in a Modern Library editionwith a new introduction by the author--while amazingly maintaining therough feel of realism in every scene and the pulse of life in everyheart.Many novelists of his time might have populated a novel with anovelist protagonist whose life and books comment on each other andthe novel we're reading. Transsexual football players, ball turretgunners lobotomized in battle, multiple adultery, unicycling bears,mad feminists who amputate their tongues in sympathy with thecelebrated victim of a horrifying rape--Irving made them allpeople. Even the bear is a fitting character.

In a crucial episode, Garp's wife's seduction of a young mancoincidentally occurs at the moment when Garp is delighting theiryoung sons with a reckless car trick (one of the few scenesbeautifully, eerily, heartbreakingly captured in the film version aswell). Many authors would have been content with the harsh comedy ofthe scene, but Irving respects its integrity, and he builds the restof the book on the consequences of the event. How does he get awaywith his killer cocktail of slapstick and horror? Because it's simplywhat we all face daily, rearranged into soul-satisfyingart. "Life is an X-rated soap opera," according to Garp, andwho can contradict him?

Rereading Garp 20 years later, one is struck by how elegantlyIrving structures his bizarre and complex story. Take the two mostcelebrated bits in the book, the Under Toad and Garp's story"The PensionGrillparzer," which shimmers like an exquisite Kafkaesqueinsect in the amber of the novel. When Garp warns his son about the"undertow" at the beach, the boy imagines a monster out ofBeowulf wholurks beneath the waves to suck you under: the "Under Toad."It's funny at first, but we soon find that the Under Toad is ametaphor with teeth--he connects with a prophetic dream of death in"The Pension Grillparzer," set in Vienna. Garp's son's lastwords are, "It's like a dream!" And as Irving--who studiedat the University of Vienna--can certainly tell you, the German wordfor "death" sounds precisely like the English word"toad."

All that death, and yet Garp is mainly exuberant. This story is, asGarp's stuttering writing teacher puts it, "rich withlu-lu-lunacy and sorrow." It enriches literature, and ourlives. --Tim Appelo ... Read more

Customer Reviews (299)

1-0 out of 5 stars Good story, dire writing
A great story made painful to read by shoddy writing. I am no author but I found Irving's repeated use "of course" when telling his story distracting - three times in a half page.

2-0 out of 5 stars Dissapointing and disturbing
This is actually my first review on Amazon; I felt strongly about this book.I read the audio version after reading Irving's "Last Night At Twisted River,", which I thought was excellent.And, I loved the movie, "The Cider House Rules" and will always remember it. It is hard to review this book without "spoilers," so I will be very general.The characters are shallow and self-centered;I thought Garp and his wife, Helen were bad people and bad parents.Apparently, Irving wants us to think they are funny, lovable and flawed.The book also has a number of extremely detailed and disgusting scenes of violence and rape.The book appears to be somewhat about feminism and also about the horrors of women and girls being raped, but does not address the issue of Garp's conception, which occurred as his mother sexually assaulted a MAN who was incapacitated due to a war injury, or the the fact that Helen uses a student's infatuation with her to take advantage of and control this young man sexually and emotionally, with absolutely disasterous results.A real problem, also, was that after the catastrophic accident that is the turn-around point in the story, we hear extensively about everyone's injuries and their reactions to everyone else's injuries.One person is totally left out, for about an hour of the audio, at least, which is approximately 30 pages.I listened to the CD's at this point three times, so it is not me.The listener or reader is likely to assume that this individual had no injuries and is staying at another location while all other parties are convalescing, or that this individual is dead.Suddenly, out of nowhere, we learn.This is either teasing the reader in a weird way on Irving's part, or just bad writing.I think the second.In addition, the main part of the story is taking place during the Vietnam War era, and this is never mentioned, so all the social commentary is somehow irrelevant.I wish I had not read this book, it has decreased my esteem for John Irving.

Irving's idea of a plot is to throw in the most bizarre event anyone can imagine and then have his characters suffer the consequences. A few parts I had to laugh out loud at and others I did cringe at.

It started off witha lot of energy and drama, but it just wasn't maintained throughout.I found the storyline in parts timeless.

I didn't say I didn't like this book - I was relieved when it was over. The story was 20hrs and 26min long on audible.If it be abridged to 12 hours and cut out some of the slow parts I could have given it a 5 star.But it dragged on so long with too many boring bits.Now don't get me wrongI have listened to longer stories and didn't want them to end.But this story, please put out an abridged version and it would be a lot better.(For me to say this!!! I am normally someone who always buys unabridged!!!!!)

3-0 out of 5 stars The World According to Whom?
When a book has received such accolades as Garp, it is a bit daunting to suggest that just perhaps the novel is not as good as its reputation.After all, The Modern Library has incorporated the title into its collection of "the best of the world's best books;" it has been translated into more than thirty languages; sold more than ten million copies; and been made into a critically acclaimed movie.I have read Irving's first three novels, as well as Hotel New Hampshire and A Prayer of Owen Meany, so I am familiar with Irving's work and style and include him in the company of the best contemporary American writers.So why is it that as I finished the novel I felt immensely dissatisfied - even annoyed?

After some reflection, I came to the conclusion that Irving had gone to the same well once too often.I have no problem with an author reworking similar characters and themes in an attempt to perfect his art and focus on a world view, but by his fourth novel you would think that Irving might have tried different motifs other than bears, wrestling, infidelity, and sudden violent death.The literary career of T.S. Garp so reflects that of John Irving that both writers become mirrors of themselves.Irving's Setting Free the Bears is very much like Garp's Procrastination; Irving's 158-Pound Marriage is Garp's Second Wind of the Cuckold (the title of Garp's book is taken from the last sentence in Irving's novel!) Irving even gives his readers a hint as to the subject of his next book (The Hotel New Hampshire) in Garp's My Father's Illusions, and it could even be argued that Irving had already invented the prototype of T.S. Garp in the main character, Bogus Trumper, of The Water Method Man.

But all the above criticisms could have been overcome if Irving had been able to synthesize the disparate elements that constitute the novel into a coherent whole.Unfortunately, it is a ragtag conglomeration of superfluous events, superfluous ideas, and superfluous characters that lend little to the development of the novel, and only detracts from the successes that Irving achives - even necessitating an epilogue in order to try to tie the superfluity up neatly.And there are some wonderful achievements: Irving's creation of Roberta Muldoon is truly imaginative - she is one of the unique characters in contemporary American fiction - and Irving captures the shared paranoid zeal of the over protective father and the burgeoning feminist movement masterfully.Perhaps a little more editing, as well as some forethought before he forged ahead would have been in order.

Towards the end of the novel, the fictitious reviewer, A.J. Harms, comments on the literary career of T.S. Garp, making the argument that "as he [Garp] became more autobiographical, his writing grew narrower ... slimmer and less imaginative in every way.Garp had lost the freedom of imagining life truly."Although Irving stresses that an autobiographical disposition is the least fruitful source for fiction, yet somewhere in the midst of this spurious discussion of the creative spark, the lives of T.S. Garp and John Irving cross.And therein lies the weakness of the novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars I waited too long to read John Irving...
Of course I'd heard of John Irving, and of course I'd heard of 'The World According to Garp.'I'm grateful I never saw the movie because sometimes (actually, most of the time) it ruins or prejudices one's experience of reading the book.I read this book, my first John Irving novel but by no means my last, within 30 hours over Thanksgiving Holiday and was completely absorbed.It is all things: funny, tragic, clever and absolutely entertaining.Best of all, John Irving's characters are so brilliantly described and developed that they may as well be sitting next to you on the sofa.

Of the parents who will read 'The World According to Garp,' I have only one thing to say: you will relate.John Irving describes the parental condition better than anyone I've ever read, and does it with honesty and accuracy.Instead of coming across as maudlin and overly-sentimental, it is simply brilliant and funny and hysterical.And, of course, it is tragic, because *parenting* is tragic in so many ways.

Of the non-parents who read the book, you will also relate because Garp and his mother and all of the characters in the novel are like the rest of us...full of fears and desires, and acting upon those fears and desires come what may.As in life, sometimes there is no reason why.

Irving's 'Garp' is human; it is a novel messy with and full of *being* human.If someone should ask me what the book is about, that is what I would say, that "it's about being human."This novel does best what every novel strives to do: it makes you turn the page because you have to know what happens next.I envy those of you who have not read 'The World According to Garp.' ... Read more

11. Trying to Save Piggy Sneed
by John Irving
Paperback: 448 Pages (1997-02-11)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$4.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345404742
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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"Supple and energetic as a stylist, Mr. Irving also knows just how to create in the reader's mind a vivid impression of an existing world *and just how to populate it."

 *The New York Times Book Review

"CANDID . . . COLORFUL . . . Those who have followed John Irving's writing career will delight in his newest, Trying to Save Piggy Sneed. . . . Readers will leave this book feeling as if they have had a terrific conversation with Irving about why he writes and how he goes about it."

 *USA Today

"[THIS] NEWEST BOOK IS A FIRST FOR IRVING: a collection of memoirs, short fiction, and essays. Trying to Save Piggy Sneed features tributes to Dickens and Günter Grass, whose novels percolate with a political and moral courage Irving admires. It also includes six short stories, a form Irving doesn't claim as his own. Reminiscences round out the collection, from his caustic recollections of an awkward dinner with former President Reagan to the title piece, in which the death of his town's garbage collector symbolically sparked the teenage Irving's desire to write."

 *Minneapolis Star Tribune

"THESE PIECES ARE WORTH SAVING AND SAVORING. . . . Trying to Save Piggy Sneed is a welcome oasis on the long desert passage leading to John Irving's next novel."

 *The Seattle Times/Post-Intelligencer

"ENGAGINGLY CANDID . . . The essays on himself and other writers make the book valuable, for they tell us a great deal about Irving's views of fiction, much in the public eye since the success of Garp in 1978."


"A rich, wonderful and diverse look into the creative mind of one of America's most imaginative and passionate novelists. . . . Irving again proves he has enough imagination for 10 writers."

 *The Denver Post

... Read more

Customer Reviews (26)

4-0 out of 5 stars It's a memoir, not a short story collection
Several months after reading "Trying to Save Piggy Sneed", I found myself recommending it to someone, and in describing it I suddenly realized what it was -- it's not a short story collection, it's a memoir.It's Irving's way of writing an autobiography, and a very clever one at that.

Autobiographies are inevitably a little skewed or even dishonest, because they're written after the fact, through the lens of the author's life at the time he/she was writing the autobiography and his/her urge to create a narrative. Irving has done something very different, by including stories he actually wrote at different times in his life, and using them to tell his life story.The little essays after each story not only illuminate the stories beautifully and tell Irving's life story, but you also get a fuller and more accurate sense of the development of the author through his life than you would had he simply written a conventional memoir.Very unique approach.

5-0 out of 5 stars A more interesting format for presenting short stories
I gave this book five stars in part for the way it was organized. Virtually all short story collections have 10-12 stories, and that's it, which may be one reason that short story collections generally don't sell as well as novels. There is nothing to break up the stream. After finishing one, you're confronted with the next, with new characters, a new plot, new themes. Short stories require more concentrated effort than a similar number of pages in a novel, so I apprecitate the way this book helped give me breathing space.

Trying to Save Piggy Sneed began with John Irving's memoirs, which covered about 160 pages. I found it quite interesting, except possibly for some of the extended descriptions of wrestling matches. Nonetheless, it personalized my reading experience in a way that simply reading one short story after the other seldom does. Knowing something about John Irving's growing-up years put the stories in context, and trying to relate the themes of the stories to his life enriched the whole experience.

Also, following each story were notes on the story, again giving further insight that you rarely get from the standard short story format.

The third section of the book, after the memoirs and short stories, contained essays on Charles Dickens and other subjects. I enjoyed getting inside John Irving's head to see what sort of literature he likes and why, then comparing it with my own opinions. I felt like I was having a conversation with him.

I bought the book originally because of the short story called Interior Space. I was curious because I knew it had won awards, plus I'd never read an Irving short story. I enjoyed that story but after finishing the book, found myself liking the book for much more than just that award-winning story.

I hope other authors planning on publishing a short story collection take note of the format of Trying to Save Piggy Sneed as a way of "mixing things up" to create more interest.

5-0 out of 5 stars LOVE John Irving
I have nothing bad to say about anything that John Irving has written, and this is no exception.His short stories and memoirs are as intriguing and captivating as his novels and I enjoyed every minute of this compilation

4-0 out of 5 stars Nice Memoir.Funny observations.Tragic.
How in the world I discovered this book at the local Dollar Tree for a mere buck is beyond me.This is some good reading from John Irving's life including his childhood.I did enjoy Vonnegut's memoir "A Man Without A Country" a little better.I still recommend this as much as any for anyone looking for a laugh out loud myriad of stories, observations, and tragic events.Yes - you might come to tears laughing, but also from some sad events as well.

3-0 out of 5 stars Irving's first - and only - book of stories
This is a fine collection of short stories, the only problem being that most people don't like short stories.

This is a particular problem for Irving since readers associate him with huge, emotional roller-coaster novels such as A Prayer for Owen Meany or The World According to Garp.

Also the selection here is a little odd: a mixture of the kind of fiction you might find in The New Yorker plus some non-fiction: autobiographical essays of childhood plus an introduction to a Dickens novel. Since I always thought Irving was more of a Hardy fan, I found this a little bemusing.

Overall, fans of Irving's longer work will tend to a little disappointed with this outing, though this is perhaps no fault of the author.

... Read more

12. The 158-Pound Marriage (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by John Irving
Paperback: 176 Pages (1997-06-23)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$6.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345417968
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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The darker vision and sexual ambiguities of this erotic, ironic tale about a ménage a quatre in a New England university town foreshadow those of The World According to Garp; but this very trim and precise novel is a marked departure from the author's generally robust, boisterous style. Though Mr. Irving's cool eye spares none of his foursome, he writes with genuine compassion for the sexual tests and illusions they perpetrate on each other; but the sexual intrigue between them demonstrates how even the kind can be ungenerous, and even the well-intentioned, destructive. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (28)

5-0 out of 5 stars A masterful study of messy human emotion
Based on the reviews and the questionable subject matter, I was unprepared to actually *like* this book. What a pleasant surprise! It is deeply moving, tragic, and painful -- the story of four children playing an adult game whose consequences they are unwilling to consider. The story arc, which mirrors real life in this situation, wraps up as untidily as it would in real life, with no real growth of any of the characters, no happy ending, no real promise, even, that the characters won't repeat their mistakes again. But that's real life ... and I loved it! John Irving is a brilliant master of human emotions; I have yet to read a book of his all the way through that I haven't loved (though I am struggling to get into one of his most acclaimed: The Cider House Rules.) The 158-Pound Marriage isn't for everyone; however, if you're not discomfited by loose ties, no morals, and messy human emotions, it's a terrific read.

2-0 out of 5 stars Bland and Puerile
Beyond the obvious titillation of this novel, there is little to be said for this work.Irving masks his lack of skill as a writer by simply going over the top with his characters and situations.He is like a magician trying to distract us from seeing the real action going on, which in the case of his work, is unimaginative and boring.The novel has serious moral flaws.He cavalier in mentioning violence, as if it is just a bit of backdrop, ignoring the shattering implication of this in the life of women.There are Irvings gag names, his fixation with wresting, his "imaginative" flights of fancy which are little more than filler.Any interesting observations he has about life and love are buried in the ground of his compulsions.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Master of Craft, Plot, and Characterization
This is the second book I've read by Irving, and I have to admit he's quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.

The book is about two married couples who meet well after they've each established a family and mode of life.Though neither couple seemingly would have considered such a thing before, they begin to swap partners without secrecy.It becomes a normal occurrence for them, and they even go so far as to vacation together.

One of the characters is a wrestling aficionado (not an uncommon occurrence in Irving's writing) and thus you get the title and all sorts of easily accessible wrestling lingo.In fact, he dedicates a chapter to each character in the beginning of the book, establishing background, and he literally divides them by weight class.

Of course, such things as spouse swapping are bound to fall apart, and the reader experiences the full implosion as both couples must deal with their "break-up" and the new dynamic it introduces both into their own marriages and with each other as "friends."

Though the story was a bit more sexually graphic than I'm accustomed to reading, Irving's style captivates me.He is truly a master at craft, plot, and characterization.And best of all, his stories burrow into your being and you can't help but become enthralled with his character's lives.

I look forward to reading more of Irving's work.

~Scott William Foley, author of Souls Triumphant

2-0 out of 5 stars Lightweight Literature
"The 158-Pound Marriage" is Irving's third novel, but it bears the seal of his trademark conversational prose, his sleek sparsity.The man is a prose pro -- even at this early point in his career -- capable of turning the simplest of descriptions into something fulsomely beautiful, larger than the sum of its parts.

However, just because someone knows how to write, that doesn't mean they know what they're writing about.In this book, Irving tries real hard to make a very little look like a whole lot.This reader wasn't fooled.

The story is about an unnamed college professor (who is also an unsuccessful writer of historical fictions) and his Viennese wife, Utchka.At a faculty get-together, they meet another couple: a Viennese German professor/wrestling coach named Severin, and his spoiled wife, Edith.Without much fanfare, the couples start up a spouse-swapping relationship that, of course, ends badly.

That's it.I'm not kidding.

Irving rounds out his dismal and repetitive plot with various anecdotes, some time-flopping devices, and lots of clever (if not over-wrought) character development.Irving is a maverick at populating his books with legitimate and understandable souls; you can feel their pulses in each slim page.The problem here is that every character is despicable.The narrator is myopic and heartless.Severin is petulant and stubborn.Utch is childish and stupid.And Edith is selfish and melodramatic.The real kicker?None of them change.Not at all.

The story's "twists," if they can be called that, are employed solely to make the reader feel like the tale is in motion, that it both arose from and is headed toward something interesting.That's not the case.These people and their histories (especially Utch's) make for some occasionally intriguing reading, but by the last third of the novel, when the couples are mostly just bickering and whining, you'll find it as intriguing as, well, as watching two couples bicker and whine.

Let's not forget the children.That's right.Both couples have two children which exist in the plot like thumbtacks holding up a map of Swingsville.Not only are the kids barely there, but when they DO show up, their presence is announced sportscaster-style by both Irving and the narrator.My guess is that the next-to-last draft of this novel had no kids at all.Just before publication, I bet Irving decided to try to ratchet the stakes up a notch by tossing in a few tykes, expecting they would give all of the self-indulgent sexuality a tincture of doom.He's trying to slap on some import, make the reader aghast, throw the amoral escapades into the light of carelessness, but such a thing would be unnecessary if the story were well-molded to begin with.As such, the overall effect is cheap and tasteless.(Maybe Irving knew this; the narrator himself frequently mentions how it's too bad he hadn't thought of the children more than he did.)

For a story about love and passion, this book is void of either.Never do the characters seem to have any feelings for anyone other than themselves, and even the occasional "erotic" passage is about as sexy as a shattered shower door or stinking wrestling mat.The book takes place at such a remove (not a surprise, since the narrator, like all the characters, has his sights turned mostly on himself) that there's no connection at all, not between the lovers, nor between the spouses, not even with the reader.There's a lot of nice-sounding prose here, but it tells a dull and dismal half-story, one that's not nearly as profound as it is pathetic.

3-0 out of 5 stars The weakest of Irving's early works.
If one views the works of John Irving as a whole, this novel stands out like a sore thumb.Published in 1974, it is, without a doubt, a product of its time - when sexual freedom and experimentation were rampant and menage a quatres, such as described in the novel, were not that uncommon.Although encompassing many of the Irving themes: Vienna, wrestling, infidelity, and his character's propensity for emotionally destroying one another, it lacks the magic and playfulness of his other works.Irving's "story within a story" style is gone and is replaced by a style that seems more suitable to a writer of literary digests than to a novelist, with the result that the reader does not get to know the characters as well as in his other novels nor even really care what happens to them.

When Irving is unable to create characters that the reader cares for, his whole work suffers.In fact, it is Irving's characterizations that are the center of his art.One is hard pressed to name any of his main characters that does not strike a sympathetic note with the reader; even the foolish charlatan, Bogus Trumper (The Water-Method Man), has his charming side and at least sugggests that he has learned from this mistakes and is ready to make another go of it.Not so in this novel.All four characters are fairly reprehensible.The un-named narrator, a tenured professor of history whose historical novels are not even recognized as "publications" by his department; his wife, Utch, an Austrian refugee from World War II, who confuses a cow for her mother (you'll have to read the book!); the Viennese wrestling coach and professor of German, Severin Winter, and his svelte wife and aspiring writer, Edith, all come across as caricatures rather than as real characters.

The story of the sexual escapades that seemingly consume their fairly boring lives is told in almost clinical terms and lacks any of the passion that, one would hope, would come from such a shared arrangement.As the narrator relates the story of self-absorption, self-delusion, and sexual dalliance, the reader comes to realize why the narrator's historical novels quickly go out of print and are not recognized by his colleages as serious works - he is a mediocre writer, and for a historian, oblivious to the lessons of history.But in spite of all the shortcomings of the main characters, Irving shines a penlight of hope that perhaps not all is totally lost.The two Austrians, having survived World War II and its aftermath, have their feet on much firmer ground than do the two Americans, and one gets the faintest of impressions that maybe, just maybe, the Winters will get back together and learn something from this experience, and that even the most injured of the quartet, Utch, will perhaps pull things together.As for the narrator, the reader knows with certainty that he will continue to live on the periphery, always attempting those things for which he is marked for failure. ... Read more

13. John Irving: Three Complete Novels: Setting Free The Bears, The Water-Method Man, The 158-Pound marriage
by John Irving
Hardcover: 718 Pages (1995-05-21)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$106.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0517146541
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This collection features the first three novels of this highlyacclaimed New York Times bestselling author. Compassionate, satirical,deeply insightful and humorous, these compelling novels have gainedhim millions of fans.

Setting Free the Bears: Siggy and Hannes were disenchantedstudents and fellow conspirators. Astride a 700cc royal Enfieldmotorcycle, they roamed the Austrian countryside. When Gallen, alovely hitchhiker, joined them, they zeroed in on the Vienna Zoo--andSiggy's dream: setting free the bears!

The Water-Method Man: The acclaimed second novel bythe author of the #1 international bestseller, A Prayer for OwenMeany. Fred "Bogus" Trumper is a wayward knight-errant in the battleof the sexes, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet, he stubbornly clingsto the notion he'll make something of his life.

The 158 Pound Marriage: Sometimes they looked at each other,aroused half out of their minds by the thought that each had just beenmaking love with another, and it would be enough to make them want todo it--together--all over again. Well, almost enough.

... Read more

14. John Irving: A Critical Companion (Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers)
by Josie P. Campbell
Hardcover: 224 Pages (1998-11-30)
list price: US$46.95 -- used & new: US$46.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0313302227
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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One of America's most noted contemporary novelists, John Irving has created a body of fiction of extraordinary range, moving with ease from romance to fairytale to thriller. Although his fiction follows in the tradition of the great 19th-century world novelists, he is a quintessential American writer--his novels are laced with broad humor, farce, and absurd situations. He does not hesitate to tackle the troubling issues that have faced our nation in the past few decades, such as war, racism, sexism, abortion, violence, and AIDS. This study offers a clear, accessible reading of Irving's fiction. It analyzes in turn all of his novels from Setting Free the Bears (1968) to his newest novel A Widow for One Year (1998). It also provides the reader with a complete bibliography of Irving's fiction, as well as selected reviews and criticism. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars An absolute MUST for Irving fans
This book is just fantastic.There's so much that's good to say about it, but if you're an Irving fan like I am, it's essential to your reading.She looks at his work in parts and as a whole, and does it wonderfully.I can't recommend this too highly. ... Read more

15. The Cider House Rules: A Novel (Modern Library)
by John Irving
Hardcover: 592 Pages (1999-11-03)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$11.68
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679603352
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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First published in 1985, The Cider House Rules is John Irving's sixth novel. Set in rural Maine in the first half of this century, it tells the story of Dr. Wilbur Larch--saint and obstetrician, founder and director of the orphanage in the town of St. Cloud's, ether addict and abortionist. It is also the story of Dr. Larch's favorite orphan, Homer Wells, who is never adopted.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (356)

5-0 out of 5 stars if you haven't read it yet, why not?
How much do I love this book? I've read it 3 times. It's my decade treat ... I re-read it every 10 years, and it never fails to surprise and delight me. As per John Irving's style, the plot is intricate and the characters jump off the page until you feel that you intimately know them.

Most people who'd pick up this book long after its publication date probably saw the movie. Irving's books are practically impossible to translate into movies, as anyone who's read "A Widow For One Year" ("The Door in the Floor") and "A Prayer For Owen Meany" can attest. Film adaptations can only present a sliver of his books. The problem with the adaptations is precisely what makes his writing wonderful: plot intricacy and character development. If you want the "real" story, then read this book, where you'll find amazing characters who didn't make it to the big screen.

When it comes to the range of human experience and emotions, Cider House has it all. The last paragraph of the book is probably the most touching I've ever read. People always ask me if the book has a happy ending. My response is the same: it has an utterly satisfying ending.

3-0 out of 5 stars Soap opera
The part about abortions is superb. Totally agree with the author on the topic. The only unrealistic thing is the main character's taking a break for 15 years and then coming back to medical field with the same skills and knowledge. Not possible, sorry. Reading journals and examining pictures is not enough. It's like a being a violinist: you need to practice every day. If you don't practice for 15 years, better stay away, save a squirrel.

The sleezy triangle arrangement part is not realistic. Would make a good soap opera for housewives, though.Two 40 year old man sleeping with the same woman in the same house and playing the family (kissing each other good night?? )is hilarious. The part about a 15 year old who questions nothing, asks for no explanations and is put to bed every night by father is funny as well as the characters' dirty secret that remains a secret for 15 years while at least two dozen people are well aware of it. Unless there was some intellectual disability involved.
Also, the development of events makes you think that Homer Wells never happened to mature and instead remained the same weak and needy young man with no will and no aspirations of his own .All major decisions of his life, both professionally and personally, were made for him by other people, too. However, he was adaptive enough to get favors from his benefactor (Wally) and keep betraying him behind his back for years. Homer is not really my type of an honorable guy. Anyone else wants a friend who will be living in his room, wearing his clothes, eating his food and banging his wife for years? I would pass. With a friend like Homer Wells, one doesn't really need enemies. But this part was good, it was realistic, as well as the character of Candy. Another weak girl who couldn't keep her legs crossedfirst and then had no nerve to confess and stop lying and cheating.But again, the abortion message was great.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good book, don't buy the "library binding" edition.
A great book and worthwhile having in proper hardcover.Do not buy the "library binding".I did, and to my dismay it is a rebound paperback edition.It is small and the paper is poor quality.

5-0 out of 5 stars What a captivating read!
This is a really great book and one hell of a journey. This started off a long fascination of mine with John Irving. His writing is so approachable, and I felt a kind of nostalgia while reading this like I had been there myself. The character of Wilbur Larch is one of my favorite fiction heroes and this is one book you wont want to stop. Jump on the Hotel New Hampshire after this and don't take a short cut into the films, the book is where its at!

1-0 out of 5 stars One star
It is disheartening to pick up a book that is well-rated by so many and find that it is unendurable.I can see why a 15-year old might find this book entertaining, but why would an adult spend any time with it? ... Read more

16. 3 By Irving
by John Irving
Hardcover: 718 Pages (1980-03)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$58.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394509838
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17. My Movie Business: A Memoir
by John Irving
Paperback: 192 Pages (2000-10-10)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$5.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345441303
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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After two producers, four directors, thirteen years, and uncounted rewrites, the movie version of John Irving's acclaimed novel, The Cider House Rules, at last made it to the big screen. Here is the author's account of the novel-to-film process. Anecdotal, affectionate, and delightfully candid, My Movie Business dazzles with Irving's incomparable wit and style.Amazon.com Review
John Irving's novels pose tantalizing challenges tofilmmakers: at his best, Irving has proven both popular and ambitious,crafting rich, picaresque fiction that juggles Big Themes and anticcomedy, braiding his central narratives with intriguing subplots anddiscursive back stories driven by vivid characters. Irving'saccessibility teases the would-be director or producer with theprospect of commercial acceptance even as the scope and intricacy ofhis work raises crucial risks for the scriptwriter. With two earlynovels that made it to the screen, The World According toGarp and TheHotel New Hampshire, Irving's box office impact thus farevenly translates to hit and miss.

This slender memoir offers aperceptive, if hardly objective, critique of the inherent differencesbetween novels and screenplays, with the writer sharing his ownexperiences creating both. Irving focuses principally on his crusadeto bring The CiderHouse Rules to the screen, tracing its gestation through foursuccessive directors; with Irving himself attached as scriptwriter, wesee the novelist struggling to reconcile the demands of concisionagainst his paternal instincts toward the original book. Writtenbefore the final cut of The Cider House Rules, My MovieBusiness often verges on self-justification. Irving's respect forthe movie's ultimate caretaker, Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom, isevident, as is his hopeful enthusiasm for the project's casting (whichincludes Michael Caine, Tobey McGuire, Jane Alexander, and CharlizeTheron). Yet Irving can't repress the wariness prompted by his earlierdisappointments with both this and other novels.

Ultimately, suchcandor doesn't diminish the account's value as a post mortem of thecreative process behind serious filmmaking, nor does it overpower thereliable grace of Irving's prose. Fans will also find My MovieBusiness revealing in its exploration of the inspiration behindThe Cider House Rules and its eloquent stance against theantiabortion movement--Irving's own grandfather, a leading doctor,administrator, and Harvard professor of obstetrics and gynecology. Butmoviegoers, as well as those who haven't read Irving's original novel,should be forewarned that this memoir does reveal key plot elements ofboth. --Sam Sutherland ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great short read for Irving Fans
I greatly enjoyed this little memoir of one of my favorite authors and his experiences with the movie business.The book centers on the process of creating "The Cider House Rules" but also touches on the movie experiences of Garp and Hotel New Hampshire.

The only disappointment for me was the things the book *didn't* cover.In all the talk about the Cider House Rules, there was no mention of Peter Parnell's outstanding 6-hour stage production by Seattle Rep.When this show traveled to LA, we were lucky enough to see it, and I've always felt it represented the way the movie really should have been done (if only there were 6 hour movies, alas).

There was also no mention of the adaptations of Owen Meany into "Simon Birch" or A Widow for One Year which I'm fairly sure was made into "A Door in the Floor" or something like that.I expected some conversation of the difference between a movie representation like Cider House vs. an adaptation that is different enough to require a title change (but perhaps because of there there are contractual reasons why it could not be discussed).

In any case, Irving fans will enjoy this behind the scenes glimpse.It will be most illuminating if you've seen at least his main three movie adaptations mentioned above.

4-0 out of 5 stars Quick, Easy, Fun for Lovers of the Novel
Irving's memoir is more of an extended essay of how The Cider House Rules was conceived, researched, written, then adapted for cinema than it is an actual memoir. There is very little divulged about his life outside of Cider House and it reads like a justification for the changes made to the story of Cider House than anything (especially in the second half of the memoir). While interesting, it gets frustrating when Irving states that he had only seen two movies at the cinema in ten years and that he fast forwards through the boring bits on VHS, yet he is given script, director, and cast approval. This frustration stems from the tone in which he takes on his adaptation, making it seem as though each change was inevitable, and almost talks down to the reader. However, the book is very interesting for those who loved the book and/or the movie and interested in how adaptation choices are made. Some great moments include the chapters with Irvin Kershner, Tony Richardson, and Michael Winterbottom as well as the tragic story of Phillip Borsos who was the original director that died before funding could be allocated.

3-0 out of 5 stars The pictures were nice.
This recollection of his writing (books and screenplays) varies from the personal to his gripes about the movie business.He admits that he is not a moviegoer, mainly because he is not comfortable sitting in dark rooms with a lot of strangers!And yet he devoted many years and frustrated efforts to get his novels filmed, using his own screenplays.

He speaks of his friendship with Salman Rushdie, author of THE SATANIC VERSES, to whom he dedicated his novel, A SON OF THE CIRCUS.He relates his experiences in India researching children who'd been sold to be performers in the circuses there. He was particularly interested in the dwarf clowns.It took him five and a half years to finish the novel; had no luck with getting the screenplay accepted.

Of his published books, the three most popular made into films were THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP (starring Robin Williams), which I thought was pretty weird, THE HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE (Jodie Foster) and THE CIDER HOUSE RULES (Tobey Maguire -- the reason I watched it).

He gives an in-depth account of the making of this movie and his involvement in every aspect except the advertising.He worried over what the poster would show.In the movie, he portrayed a train station master (that is his costumed acting on the front cover of the book), where an old steam engine similar to Knoxville's Rambler was used.

If you saw the movie about an abortion doctor and his protege, looking at the large photo layout in the middle of this book lets you re-live the emotions.It is based on his grandfather's practice in Boston as explained in his biography, SAFE DELIVERANCE, about the nationally Lying-In Hospital.His grandfather wrote nonfiction as opposed to John's novels based on his family background.Guess he used his imagination a bit.

He made demands that they use the reading of Charles Dickens' DAVID COPPERFIELD to the children in the orphanage.I think perhaps he lives in the past too much as he reminisces not about the good things but the negative which happened.

This was not one of my favorite movies (the subject matter is still a controversy which may never be resolved), but I did learn how to find a person's unlisted phone number:'say you are calling about a death in the family.'It happened to this author when he lived in New York and asked a caller "how did you get my number?"Now, this I found interesting.That's the joy of reading -- you learn something in every book no matter how insubstantial the subject matter.

It's not exactly what I would call a "memoir" as it focuses on this film almost exclusively.The rest is peripheral.

2-0 out of 5 stars Unprintable - Not worth it !
Amazon was in stock then out of stock on paperback edition, after advising book would be shipped and arrive in 2 days.( Then I check and its due to ship in 2 weeks.) Ineeded itto review for college assignment,so had no choicebut to buy download version.Imissed the " can't print " notation on description. Would not allow cut and paste for quotes from book and had to type all quotes referred to. Reading a book on a monitor was also annoying. Never again will I download a book.
First time ever screwed by Amazon, so I will forgive them for now.

4-0 out of 5 stars A great memoir
If at first you don't succeed...

It took Irving a great amount of time and work to have one of his greatest novels turned into one of the most critically-acclaimed movies of the year.THE CIDER HOUSE RULES, perhaps the best known of Irving's novels, was finally made into a movie starring Michael Caine.MY MOVIE BUSINESS follows the variious difficulties he encounters, while also letting the reader in on his personal history with and opinions on the touchy subject of abortion.In true Irving style, he speaks seriously of the subject but relieves the viewer of its politics by telling some very funny anecdotes.

I highly suggest this book for any Irving fan.If you haven't really read anything of his before, I don't suggest this as a first book--read THE CIDER HOUSE RULES first. ... Read more

18. Prayer for Owen Meany
by Irving John
Hardcover: Pages (1989-05-11)
-- used & new: US$24.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 074750458X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Prayer for Owen Meany
Absolutely wonderful, all time favorite book!You must read it. John Irving may not have current books available, but this older book can surpass many of today's bestsellers.

5-0 out of 5 stars A beautiful story of friendship and faith
Owen Meany, diminutive in height and weight and with a voice that almost defies description, other than he speaks in capital letters, has been he firmly believes placed on this earth for a purpose. His life long and best friend John Wheelwright tells Owen's story, which is inevitably as much John's the story too. It is also a story about faith.

Owen is a character and a half, despite his small size and fragile appearance, an appearance that makes most girls and women want to hug him and mother him, he has a commanding presence, he is not one to be ignored. Neither is he someone easily dissuaded from his chosen course, in fact if Owen has it in mind to do something, nothing will get in his way. Above all he believes his life has a purpose, and he means to fulfil that purpose. Throughout he has the unerring support of John, even though John might not understand all that is happening, or necessarily agree with his friend.

A Prayer for Owen Meany is a beautiful story very well told. It is carefully crafted, and in addition to the gradual unravelling of Owen's purpose, there are several other themes running throughout the story. It is in part this gradual revealing of matters that holds one's interest, often we will know a particular outcome of events very early in the story, but what lead up to or caused that outcome, we may not know for some time, in some cases not until the end. We won't realise either that some seemingly irrelevant actions will prove crucial to the outcome.

While that makes for a fascinating read, above all it is the Owen's character, and the unquestioning friendship between Owen and John that makes this a very special story. John narrates that account from the 1980s, and while updating us on what is happening in his life then he spends most time looking back to the 1950s and 60s when they grew up, and he frequently puts the action into context by reminding us of significant news events of the period with which many of us will be familiar. He does also speak his mind occasionally about the attitude of Americans and America's involvement in international affairs, and at times indulges his interest in literature. He also has something to say about religion and the nature of faith.

This is also at times a very funny story, in fact it contains some of the funniest passages I have read anywhere. The description the the children's pageant is a prime example, it is a perfectly straight and very detailed account of events, it makes no effort to be funny, yet it is hilarious. But above all this is a very touching and moving story, heartbreaking at times; towards to end I frequently had to have a break in order to cope and prepare myself for what was coming next. This is one book that will be with me for a long time to come.

5-0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Book of All Time
First, I have to state that I have read every single one of Mr John Irving's published books. He is an amazing author and I would love to meet him some day.

Now, aside from that, "A Prayer for Owen Meany" is intense. The first hundred pages you are introduced to Johnny's family and his best friend, Owen.They grow together, experience together and drag you (the reader) along with them.You become a witness to the most intimate pieces of their lives.

Johnny grows into your typical curious teenaged boy while Owen remains very unique. From Owen's voice, to his adult maturidy, to his unwavering religious beliefs- Owen is a character that you will never forget.

I really feel like I "got to know" Johnny and Owen, and the other supporting characters, because Irving brought out the best and the worst qualities in their characters, and displayed them for me to observe.If these guys were real, I'd definitely want to meet them!"...Owen Meany" is definitely Irving's best work.It is the novel that speaks the loudest (no Owen joke intended there) and the one that examines the acts of friendship and faith that makes human bonds so strong.

I have this thing with "A Prayer for Owen Meany". I first read it in high school, my freshman English class, and thought it was SO LONG that I procrastinated on starting it. Then, as I delved deeper into the story, I became fully attached to it. I wrote in the margins, highlighted passages, wrote thesis statements and essays on the book.

Then, that first copy fell apart. I couldn't bear throwing it out, though, so I simply put that copy on my bookshelf and bought another copy of "Owen Meany". I read that one again and again, until that too, was falling apart.

So, I bought another copy. Every time I meet someone who is smart, creative, intellegent and close to me- I buy them a copy of "Owen Meany".

Irving has crafted a story of love, loss and discovery that takes you through romance, friendship, male bonds, death, war, and the progression of time.

This book is my absolute favorite story of all time. ... Read more

19. Pension Grillparzer
by John Irving
 Audio Cassette: Pages (1989-04)
list price: US$9.95 -- used & new: US$4.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0945353391
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars better than irving
The genius of this piece is that Irving has created a character in T.S.Garp who is an even better writer than himself."The Pension Grillparzer," Garp's first and best work, is even better than Irvingcould have written himself.

5-0 out of 5 stars natural storyteller
this story within a story, to me, is the highlight of the world according to garp. the plot is funny and beautiful and sad and humbles me as a writer. this story holds its own outside of the context of the novel, however i recommend it be read in the book for full effect. ... Read more

20. Setting Free the Bears
by John Irving
 Paperback: Pages (1974)

Asin: B0012GLE3I
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (34)

4-0 out of 5 stars Love the Premise
Love the premise of this work: Setting free the animals in a German zoo. It inspired lots of fantasies as to how the same could be done in Chicago!!! Irving can craft a fine story, and make it entertaining and compelling. He's certainly done that in this book.

1-0 out of 5 stars Obviously his first
I found it to be a tedious read.It screamed "this is my first novel" from start to finish.I am a huge John Irving fan, but this was a disappointment.

2-0 out of 5 stars boring
I didn't like this book. It was silly and juvenile in a bad way. I can tell it was his first book.

1-0 out of 5 stars Stumbling Out the Gate
Talk about an inauspicious start!

John Irving's books come with some clearly recognizable traits.The oh-so-cute coincidences, the not-so-subtle personality quirks of the characters, give Irving's novels a distinctive flavor that readers either love or hate.Although there are differences of opinion as to whether such traits make for good books or merely for gimmicky ones, people usually agree that the writing itself has an easy flow to it.The eye slides over phrases and sentences without difficulty, allowing one to soak up the story without struggling with bad prose.

Reading SETTING FREE THE BEARS illuminates just how far Irving has come in this regard.The writing is as rough as sandpaper.Sentences, far from flowing smoothly, get bogged down in thorny verbiage, making the actual plot almost secondary to simply getting through the written page itself.

As for the plot, well, Irving has grown in more ways than one.When Graff, a young college student, meets up with Siggy, an idiosyncratic motorcyclist, they decide to `liberate' the animals at the Vienna zoo, as happened after World War II.The two go their separate ways, however, and we are thereupon `treated' to a pre-War history of Siggy's family.It is not very interesting.But then, not much about this book really is.

Irving has written some excellent books through the years.A Widow for One Year and A Prayer for Owen Meany (Ballantine Reader's Circle) are excellent, and even his second tier, such as A Son of the Circus (Ballantine Reader's Circle) and The Hotel New Hampshire (Ballantine Reader's Circle) range from not bad to pretty good.SETTING FREE THE BEARS, however, is really for only two audience.The first is die hard Irving fans.The second is literary scholars examining the evolution of a writer's style, providing a powerful example of going from the bad to the good.

4-0 out of 5 stars The beginning...
Everytime I read a John Irving book I love this author a little bit more. Though there are better books that he has written it is still a wonderful story and worth the time to read. ... Read more

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