The World According to Garp by John Irving.
This book came to me on a very strong recommendation from someone whose opinion I trust. Needless to say, I expected quite a bit from this book. Irving’s talent cannot be debated. His skill is apparent on every page, if not in every paragraph and every sentence. The novel suffers, in my mind, from a couple of flaws that prevent it from being a great novel. The first offense is personal. Irving seems to have great fun within the book. It is not that I am opposed to fun, but some of the novelty of characters and events does not charm me as it might others. The second issue I take with the book may come from the fact that might focus lately has been on the short story. Garp seems to wander extremely. If we were to pull out the skeleton of the novel, lay the whole think out in outline form, I think we’d find that it is a very uneven novel. From the time we spend before Garp’s birth, then his youth, to then the jump to his family and subsequent tragedy, another jump and new characters, and then more tragedy and death. The structure here does not pull us along with anything more than one central, albeit vibrant, character. I do not wish to limit the range of the novel, but to simply rein things in some might have helped this reader draw more from it.