I first discovered Irving with his fifth novel, The Hotel New Hampshire in 2009. I’m attracted at it’s one liner-reviews (horrifying, touching, sad, funny, etc.) that the moment i saw it, i decided to buy the copy.
And that makes me an instant fan of Mr. Irving.
Irving uses the story behind a story type of narration that makes his novels more readable, like you want to know more so you keep the pages turning. With enough irony and tragedy (which i don’t know why it always caught my attention when i saw one) to make you care for his array of (weird) interesting characters. His was always touching but not in this one. One thing i don’t like about the book (Garp) is that knowing Irving’s penchants for life-arranged misfortunes and pre-determined fate makes you think that something’s going to happen…and yes you’re right! While i was reading the novel, i was quite shock for about a couple of times ’cause even though you know something’s gonna happen, you just can’t predict it exactly anyway (a good part at least). And though i was spoiled by Erica Jong’s novel Parachutes and Kisses before reading this one, (she actually states what’s going to happen which i guess was really a give away since it is one of the story’s strongest scenes) i was still at the edge of my seat on to the detailed parts. So Irving’s ability to shock is quite good.
Of all the memorable characters, i sympathize specially with Roberta, a transvetite ex-football player. Well she / he (well, it’s homophobic to call him / her ‘It’) is the epitome of virtue i guess in my opinion. She / he is stuck with a certain situation which he / she copes obediently though he / she’s aware of the consequences. Well, some says this is Irving’s best and is an hard act to follow but i guess he can do better than this one. So, if you like a novel with some (a lot of) tragedy and life lessons from accidents, try Irving. Not to mention this one’s included on the popular list of 1001 books you must read before you die. I don’t doubt that though, for in Irving’s world, everyone is a terminal case. ^_^