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The World According to Garp

A Novel
Length: 20 hrs and 54 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (136 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A special 40th anniversary edition of the bestselling coming-of-age classic novel by John Irving, with a new introduction by the author.

"He is more than popular. He is a Populist, determined to keep alive the Dickensian tradition that revels in colorful set pieces...and teaches moral lessons." (The New York Times)

The opening sentence of John Irving's breakout novel, The World According to Garp, signals the start of sexual violence, which becomes increasingly political. "Garp's mother, Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston in 1942 for wounding a man in a movie theater." Jenny is an unmarried nurse; she becomes a single mom and a feminist leader, beloved but polarizing. Her son, Garp, is less beloved, but no less polarizing.

From the tragicomic tone of its first sentence to its mordantly funny last line -- "we are all terminal cases" -- The World According to Garp maintains a breakneck pace. The subject of sexual hatred--of intolerance of sexual minorities and differences--runs the gamut of "lunacy and sorrow."

Winner of the National Book Award, Garp is a comedy with forebodings of doom. In more than thirty languages, in more than forty countries--with more than ten million copies in print--Garp is the precursor of John Irving's later protest novels.

©1976, 1977, 1978 John Irving (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“The most powerful and profound novel about women written by a man in our generation.... Like all extraordinary books, Garp defies synopsis.... A marvelous, important, permanent novel by a serious artist of remarkable powers.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

“Nothing in contemporary fiction matches it.... Irving’s blend of gravity and play is unique, audacious, almost blasphemous.... Brilliant, funny, and consistently wise; a work of vast talent.” (The New Republic)

"A large talent announces itself on practically every page." (The Book-of-the-Month Club News

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

My fave Irving novel

Irving has a gift for capturing the irreverent, awkward and eccentric in every day moments through characters not afraid to ask life’s tough questions. This is the journey of Jenny Garp and her son, T.S. Garp. Irving never shied away from social commentary and this novel written in the 1970’s was apt for the times and remains so. Jenny’s beginning was from family money and puritanical parents. To their horror she became a nurse. During WW II she consciously decided to impregnate herself via circumstances bizarre to say the least. Jenny’s life long efforts to provide a voice for American women and dogged determinism to express without regret ideals many women reading the novel had just begun to consider created a literary character for the times. I was fortunate in that I (read)/listened to the 40th anniversary Audible book which featured John Irving reading a forward. He expressed surprise and joy the novel remains relevant. So enjoyable. A timely re-release.

Favorite Quotes

“They were involved in that awkward procedure of getting to unknow each other.”

All men are liars, said Roberta Muldoon, who knew this was true because she had once been a man.

-John Irving The World According to Garp

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Authentic and relevant complexity

In The World According to Garp, you will encounter complex and authentic representations of having, raising, and losing children, building, destroying, and rebuilding romantic relationships, sexuality, gender, and fanaticism. Of the many aspects of this novel that I will carry with me, perhaps the strongest is that no matter how hard you try, you are likely to be misunderstood, especially if you grow.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Wyatt
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • 06-12-19

A roller coaster of emotion

This book was an amazingly colorful story with fascinating characters with lots of depth. Truly worth reading again

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • RB
  • SLC UTAH
  • 05-08-19

Absolutely love it

As good as it gets. Just wish the author kept his anti Trump politics from the intro. Seems way out of place. I stopped listening to the news to of to get away from the constant Trump drone. Shouldn't have to hear to it with one of my fav novels. Hope they drop that in the future.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Didn't get past intro

I read this book and saw the movie years ago and was looking forward to this. I knew John Irving leaned far left. No problem. So do many of my favorite authors. But to go off on President Trump the way he does in his intro - well, not on my credit. Returned.

12 of 66 people found this review helpful