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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Oct. 8, 1979)
monday, October 8,1979
Honest message' of Garp is obscured in lengthy style
Dy Scott Kleager
Appropriately, I begin with an Indus
trious, but unfortunate attempt at analyz
ing The World According to Garp by John
Irving. I say "appropriately" because the
book was a harrowing experience. The
cause of my uneasiness is the honesty and
straight-forwardness of its message. In fact,
there were times when I was embarrassed
at the way the main male character, T.S.
Garp, reacted to various occurrences in his
life concerning the women's movement.
I would frown and recall when I had re
acted just as badly as Garp in a similar sit
uation. Any novel that makes me see the
obnoxious nature of my mistakes is a novel
with a good message. And this novel is one
of them. m ,
I say "unfortunate because the novel is
hopelessly complex. It's not so much that
it was hard to understand, but rather that
it was frustratingly real; complex as one's
lite is complex.
Also, the work has too much sex and
violence in it for my liking. What is it with
modern writers that induces them to in
clude so much of this- in their works? Al
though it's prevalent today, sex comes
across on paper as crude and I see no rea
son why an author should become some
what tasteless, as Irving does here, just to
sell books. Alluding to sex is much more
appealing. Also, blood is blood (no matter
how you color it) and in this book red
covers the pages at times, clouding every
thing else. I see no point in making the
The main character is T.S. Garp, an
anxious writer, naturally paranoid. His
wife, Helen, is warm, understanding and
paranoid; Roberta Muldoon, a transsexual,
a former pro football player, affectionate
and paranoid; and Jenny Fields, Carp's
mother who is a strongly determined
woman, kind and not paranoid.
All of the main characters, with the ex
ception of Jenny, live their lives in differ
ent forms of sadness and fear. But true to
the consistency of the book, and true to
life (maybe), is the fact that there is not
too much in the way of good tidings. One
gets a feeling of completeness, even if it's a
doleful completeness, after finishing.
Garp is the focal point for several im
portant themes that run through the work.
Throughout the book, "for example, he has
trouble getting to the typewriter and
although he becomes published during his
life the urge just doesn't come often
enough. It seems that he can only write if
emotionally shaken in one way or another.
His first published work, a short story, is
written solely for the purpose of proving,
to a then-young Helen, his worth as a
writer. It works and they marry. Garp
writes and publishes three move novels, all
inspired by terrible experiences in his life.
Consequently, as the occurrences in his
life become worse, his writing becomes
sporadic, cynical and violently perverse.
So much so, in fact, that he won't allow his
sons to read anything he's written except
his first short story.
HERE, 1 THINK, the author attempts
to point out the importance of work to the
psychology of any individual. Garp allows
his loves and friendships to become the
only thing of importance and his writing,
rather than being remedial, only reflects his
pain. I get the feeling that his shattered ex
pectations in turn shattered his ability to
Garp never really understands his
mother's affection and participation in the
women's movement. He never fathoms the
people that hang around his mother. Garp
sees women who cut out their tongues to
express the liberation; he observes droves
of transsexuals, bisexuals, homosexuals and
The world is crazy!" he observes. This,
of course, is what one miy call a "typical
male reaction" and all through the work
Irving portrays him as a chauvinistic boob,
and in doing so, constantly puts a mirror in
the fact of a male reader. But as matters
will have it transsexual Roberta Muldoon,
former tight end for the Philadelphia
Eagles, befriends Garp thus saving him
from a totally miserable life. And it's this
fact that justifies reading the novel.
The World According to Garp was a dif
ficult novel to get through; a very funny
novel, and a very complex novel thematic
ally. The style, though, is disappointing
and unimaginative. There aren't very many
images in it and it seems, at times, like a
Compounding matters is its length,
some six hundred pages, but if one can
bore through it then I think the book
would be worth the reading.
What's really sad is the fact that most
males will put it down at the first mention
of "women's lib" and they are the ones
who need to read it the most.
Sell a car
buy a stereo
with U.S. State Dept. Officer
X homos W Fin
Faculty Panel and
Discussion from audience.
FREE-OPEN TO ALL
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 10
NE. UNION BALLEtOOM
Talks & Topics Committee
! 13th P 4757??? ;
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It's October and the leaves are turning brown. It a season of
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Soon we will be able to see our breath, frisk with sma ags
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winter approaching and good jokes sure to be as scarce
summer birds, now is the time to lay J
jokes in the new October comedy issue of Natiorol lpoon.
and at for summer birds, you can probably ma.l
to Florida. Yes. the National SSLSaS
not rich, plump guffaw, to keep VOUorttmgrHntt
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bookstore before David Frost starts nipping people noses,
making it a pain to go outside.'
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