Once, 20 years ago, Dr. Daruwalla was the examining physician of two murder victims in Goa. Now, 20 years later, he will be reacquainted with the murderer.
©2007 John Irving; (P)2007 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"Ringmaster Irving introduces act after act, until three (or more) rings are awhirl at a lunatic pace....His Bombay and his Indian characters are vibrant and convincing." (The Wall Street Journal)
"Irving's nimble humor springs from compassionate insights into cultural and sexual confusion and alienation, baffling questions of faith and purpose, and the kind of hope that thrives in even the most jaded atmosphere." (Booklist)
"His most daring and most vibrant novel.... The story of circus-as-India is told with gusto and delightful irreverence." (The Washington Post Book World)
I do like a quirky book, but I like a bit more than just quirky. Quirky isn't a bad quality, but it isn't a big enough concept to support an entire book. Maybe a quirky short story would have been amusing.
How does John Irving keep doing it? What must sound like a ridiculous story line and plot, and yet you keep listening. Loved it as always.
The almost unbelievable, quirky characters just keep coming. An East Indian/Canadian physician who writes corny detective trash screen plays? His dwarf, circus clown chauffeur/body guard? Really? And yet it works and you believe every bit of it. Somehow it's even plausible.
I loved it all. Every goofy, unbelievable scene after scene.
I just loved Inspector Dhar and all his complications, from his ability to step in and out of character as he enters or leaves India to his mysterious twin, I just couldn't figure him out.
One of the best
Floating in the drink scenario.
Have not read the book yet.
I can't wait to read anything by John Irving. I downloaded it onto my computer. I'm old and I can't figure out how to get it onto my darn MP3 player!!
anyone wanna help me???
Probably not unless an Irving fan.
Interesting information on dwarfism and the peculiarities of Indian society with regard to its underclasses.
Oh, it's so difficult to describe what I loved best. This has turned out surprisingly to be my favorite of Irving's novels. Perhaps part of it is that I live in Asia and am interested in the idea of trying to write a novel with a protagonist from a different culture than one's self. But I feel that the book has an incredibly complex layering of plots, and India is a such a perfect context for Irving's style and tone. I love that there is a good old fashioned murder mystery in the story, and meta-layer after meta-layer on top of that, each plotline engaging and moving in and of itself. As complicated as a million piece jigsaw puzzle and yet beautifully laid out.
another one of those very few books that I simply can't get into. Where is the story? I've heard some other John Irving books but this one is a sleeper that you should pass up and find something with a worthy story line.
I am a glass artist, working from my studio at home. Audio books keep my mind stimulated while my hands are busy.
amongst the top 5, will listen to it again
the dwarf saving the missionary from transvestites
no, I loved listening to this performance
the doctor's wife - I would like to hear the whole story again from her perspective. She is the character that is left in outline, yet seems to be the one who is the most perceptive, always there to nudge the situation out of a stalemate.
The descriptions of India and life in India are the reasons to read this book, thoroughly enjoyable read.
I like funny and quirky and mysterious, so I thought I would like this book.
Its mildly entertaining, but not very funny and a LOT of the back story is just a HUGE waste of time. This was one of those rare audiobooks that, while it wasn't so bad that it annoyed me, my mind would wander to the point where I missed entire sections and I didn't bother to rewind it. I didn't even bother to turn it off if I had to stop listening to answer the phone or type an email. I just let it run and picked up again 10 minutes later.
While some of the episodes might have been hilarious had the right joker told them, somehow they're not. Its like they tried for some Jacques Clouseau style moments but missed the mark. Ever hear a joke that made you fall off your chair, and later heard someone else tell the same joke and not get a single chuckle? This is the later. I can't tell who's fault it is, writer or narrator, (I'm leaning toward narrator) there are many situations that should be very humorous, laugh outloud on the subway humorous, but they way they are described, they simply aren't. One of these guys is a bad storyteller.
As for the mstery... there aren't any major twists or turns, The author never tried to trick you into thinking its a different character, its pretty upfront. You have no reason to suspect anyone until the author tells you who did it. You just have to wait for the author to give you the information. There is no mystery "tease". Its okay, there are no glaring discrepancies, and it does all come together, I simply can't manage to care....
"Absorbing and inventive book"
This was the second John Irving audiobook I have listened to - the other being A Prayer for Owen Meany. It's taken me a while to get round to it as I was slightly put off by the length; although I enjoyed Owen Meany, it did lack the narrative momentum that makes a really good audiobook, and I was a little concerned that Son of the Circus might be the same, and this might make it a demanding and long listen.
But I was very pleasantly surprised. The plot is certainly an original one, very interesting and inventive, and the book never flags. The cast is quite a big one, but the author paints them all with a sure and vivid touch, and yoou want to know what is going to happen to them. Narration by David Colacci is excellent and he really makes the book such a pleasure to listen to.
All in all, a very enjoyable book and strongly recommended.
Not as painful a story as Garp and not as unsettling as Owen Meany (even though it involves a serial killer); this is a great yarn. It is a page-turner, if an audio-book can be called such a thing and the characters and setting have a believable richness. The narration is excellent (accents/voices passable and not too distracting). I came to like the readers voice so much I have recently downloaded another book written by him.
This journey is great fun. Irving always cracks me up and this story is as sad, funny, interesting and not entirely believable as all of his others I've read. I just wish Audible would hurry up and put Garp, Hotel New Hampshire and Cider House on the menu!
"Rambling, funny, odd"
I think this is is really worthy of 3.5 stars but I'm being generous as that isn't an option. I was disappointed because I listened to and loved A Prayer For Owen Meany some months ago and this book is nothing like as good - in my opinion anyway. However, I am trying not to make a direct comparison to that story which I thought was superb.
This story is incredibly rambling, so that it often felt disjointed. This eases somewhat by the third volume of the download possibly because you get used to it and also, you've assimilated the eleventy-hundred cast members into your memory and made some sense of it all. Kind of...
On the plus side, I was quite interested in the outcome. The story is basically a series of coincidences of such blatant unlikelihood that you just have to suspend all realistic notions and go with the flow. The characters were often finely drawn and the narration was very good, because there are a lot of accents to be contended with. It's funny, but not very. More dryly observational. The set-piece comedy elements are too long-winded for me.
On the downside, it's far too long and slow. This is quite damning from me, someone who often likes long, slow reads. But this was too much even for me. Long periods elapsed when I couldn't recall even hearing it as my mind had wandered but it never mattered.
It took me a while to get into this book. In fact, I got about a quarter of the way through and then stopped for a few months, although this was more to do with the fact that I was listening on my Shuffle in the swimming pool and then stopped swimming while I healed from surgery. I had to go back to the beginning again...
I loved the plot of this book. Although it was slow to start, it was definitely worth persevering. It was rather different to the other John Irving books I've read. David Colacci brought this to life really, really well. It was especially notable when Dr Daruwhalla was getting exasperated and angry! A stellar performance and a narrator I shall keep an eye out for on Audible.
The characters in the book are as lifelike as in any novel of Irving's, or indeed anyone else's. Mr Setna (I don't know the spellings, since it was an audiobook, so please forgive me that!) the steward at the Duckworth Club was superb. And how about Patel, the police commissioner!
I particularly enjoyed following Martin Mills and his change from blind faith to doubt. Both he and John D are 39 in the story, which just happens to be the same age as I am, so it was interesting to hear about how Martin was still finding himself. Me too!
The only thing I find annoying about Irving's writing style, and it's evident in all his novels, is his overuse of beginning a sentence with the word 'that'.
'That his something or other was big or small was evidence of his whatever...'. That kind of thing. I just find it overused and ultimately annoying as a result. But that aside, I loved this book!
"Enjoyable but takes time to make sense"
If you’re familiar with John Irving’s novels you’ll know that he doesn’t tell a straightforward story and spins off into imaginative digressions. I’ve read/listened to four of his novels and this one has more seemingly irrelevant side-tracks. For much of the book I felt that, while I enjoyed the section I was listening to, the different stories didn’t seem to be connected, but after more than 20 hours of listening began to come together. Throughout there is an underlying theme of alienation owing to race, class, disability and sexuality. The harshness of life for many Indians isn’t avoided but there is much to chuckle about as the larger-than life-characters get involved in extraordinary scenarios.
Dr Daruwalla is the common thread of the narrative and is the only wholly sympathetic character. He is an orthopaedic surgeon of Indian origin based in Toronto who makes trips to India to study achondroplastic dwarfism, about which you will learn quite a bit. There’s a surprising amount of medical detail in the book about this genetic disorder as well as, for example, about sex-change operations and the symptoms of terminal AIDS. The doctor also writes story-lines for an Indian detective series so one learns about Indian cinema as well as circus acts, the transgender Hijra communities, prostitution and the Jesuits! In addition there is a serial killer at large and the doctor gets involved in trying to solve the crime.
As a consequence of all these diverse threads there are not only many characters to keep track of but there are also un-signalled jumps back and forth in time. An ambitious and complex book that gets better in the latter parts.
Not as good or memorable as A Prayer for Owen Meany, but in the end a satisfying listen.
"Paled into insignificance"
I so loved Owen Meanie and was delighted to find another John Irving tale on audible. Not for me, I was disappointed with the story, characters and narration. I may have had a better and more positive view had I read it pre- Owen.
This is a great big book that is funny, gripping and sad. I loved Garp and Owen Meaney but had read them so long ago that I had forgotten just how good a writer JI is. This story is packed; not everything works but the whole is constantly interesting and enjoyable.
The narrator is excellent, adding considerably to the humour and maintaining the pace throughout.
"A good story but it did get a bit long"
I really like John Irving, but I have to admit that this book dragged at times - it felt like it went over and over the same ground. At his best Irving had such an incredible gift for mixing tragedy with humour, but this book just seemed sad to me - all the characters seemed destined to remain in a bad place and it didn't really seem like there was any chance at anything better for them. It was fairly well, but the reader has a rather flat voice which didn't help make it any more exciting.
"So many books, so little time!"
I lost interest and abandoned this book. Chose it because I had liked a previous John Irving book but I guess I just didn't have the staying power for this one :o(
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