I just finished The World According to Garp, my first go at a John Irving Novel and, while I enjoyed it, I'm not sure I'm going to be in any hurry to read more Irving.
This was a strange read for me. It was somewhat familiar because I saw the movie that was based on this novel, but that was 20 years ago, giving me plenty of time to forget the plot. Still, as I read the novel, I could easily remember some of the key plot points – but not all of them, and certainly not any of the finer details.
The problem for me was that there was just a little too much detail. Which is fine if that's your thing, but I'm not sure I want to know every detail about a protagonist's life. I certainly felt like I knew Garp by the end of the book, but I didn't feel that I needed to know quite that much.
Was it worth the time? 600 pages of densely packed, small-type text is a pretty substantial read. Not the biggest book ever, but enough to be considered an undertaking. Still, I was never tempted to quit. I wanted to know what became of these characters – so in that sense it was worth it. I was engaged in their lives – but I don't feel I got anything lasting out of it. I'll as easily forget this read as I will the plot of any TV episode.
What it comes down to is that, for all the character development, I want a story that's got a good solid plot line. This doesn't. It's merely some representative fragments of a person's life, woven together.
But I already knew that about myself. I rarely like fiction that is just a series of strung-together vignettes – be it a book or a movie. I like an substantial narrative arc. I must remember that as I look for my next book.
As for that, I'm toying with starting a bigger narrative – no, not the Twilight books, Cher, although I might come to that in time.
No, I'm looking at The Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R. R. Martin. Looks interesting, with several volumes having been nominated for the Hugo Award for Science Fiction Literature. I'll check out the first volume and see if it's worth the effort.
I've never read any Martin, so it's always interesting to figure out if we'll be compatible. If we are, this could be a substantial undertaking. There are two books left in the series – and five already published. If it's good, I'll have some catching up to do.