Posts Tagged ‘John Irving’

27. “A Widow for One Year”, John Irving

March 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Took me long enough. I started this around November. It sat on my shelf with a pen in it until this weekend. (I use pens and mechanical pencils as bookmarks. These are my new favorite things. $5 for eight at Barnes and Noble.)

I sort of like how all Irving books are the same. I talked about this before, but if you’re going to read somewhere between 500 and 800 pages, it’s nice to know what about half of them are going to say.

Page count: 668
Page total: 14,707

Next up: “The Hamburger: A History,” “The Phantom Tollbooth,” “Are You There, G-d? It’s Me, Margaret,” and “The Reader”


13. “The Cider House Rules”, John Irving

January 14, 2009 Leave a comment

This last half of the book starts hitting it hard with the pro-abortion access rhetoric which is… really compelling. Basically, Homer and Larch agree that the “products of conception” represents a life, but Larch insists that you can make an orphan or you can make an abortion and that no one has the right to force a person in to a situation where they feel they need to seek out illegal or dangerous abortion. Homer says towards the end that he agrees that abortions should be legal, just that he never wants to perform one. Larch tells him to get his head out of his ass– it’s all the L-rd’s work to Larch.

See my previous post for more thoughts.

Page count: 552
Page total: 11,292

Reading detective

January 9, 2009 Leave a comment

One of the things that I like best about obsessively reading a given author is seeing the patterns in her or his work. For example, John Irving clearly knew someone who SPOKE IN CAPITALS; someone with a red car; knew a formidable, large, angry girl who grew into a terrifying, disinterested, and beaten woman. He is interested in amputation and disfigurement, strong women, medicine, and New England. I feel like a little detective finding the OWEN MEANYs and Pooh Percys.

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“The Cider House Rules”, John Irving

January 7, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m working on “The Cider House Rules” right now. I read it once before, more than three years ago. I don’t remember liking it as much then as I do now. I only read “The World According to Garp” last year, but it was one of those books that has the effect of a sucker punch. Since reading it, I have read a number of John Irving books; he is one of my favourite contemporary American authors.

“The Cider House Rules”, as the other Irving books I have read, is very sensitively written. Irving often takes detours into his character’s lives or thoughts. I would not say that he meanders, as his asides are substantial and well-plotted. They create wonderfully round characters that a person cannot help but feel for. His heros are generally quite flawed, often New England orphans, and incredibly likable, even as they do bad things.

In “The Cider House Rules”, one of the main characters is Dr. Wilbur Larch, an obstetrician and abortionist who runs an orphanage in a small, depressing, damned Maine town. Here’s an excellent description of him, from The L-rd’s Work:

Later, when [Dr. Larch] would have occasion to doubt himself, he would force himself to remember: he had slept with someone’s mother and dressed himself in the light of her daughter’s cigar. He could quite comfortably abstain from from having sex for the rest of his life, but how could he ever condemn another person for having sex? He would remember, too, what he hadn’t done for Mrs. Eames’s daughter, and what that had cost.
He would deliver babies. He would deliver mothers, too.