CLOVIS -- This book
by John Irving is still a good read! It was reissued by Ballentine Books in
1994. Irving presents the reader with several moral issues still worth close examination.
The thing is, John Irving lets his main characters do
wrong things. There are very real consequences. Irving's characters as very human.
They make mistakes. Better yet, they are not always redeemed.
Perhaps, for this reason, Irving's characters are the
best modern literature has to offer up. We can relate to them because we ourselves
are often wrong and seldom are redeemed or saved from consequences. We are neither
strong nor are we timely enough to right our wrongs.
The last words in Irving's narrative are probably the
most striking: "In the world according to Jenny Fields, we are all vitals, externals,
absentees, and goners. But in the world according to the Clovis Free Press,
we are all worth saving.
Maybe a close rereading of Garp after a few years of
benign neglect is what we all need once every decade. I know I was at once struck
by how elegantly Irving's narrative still shimmers like an exquisite Kafkaesque
insect in the amber of the novel and how, at the same time it was a simple parable
for modern man like Garrison
Keillor and his Lake Wobegon Days radio broadcasts serve as a reminder
how things were never so simple as they seemed to us at the time!
But, be warned, this is the life and times of T.S.
Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields -- a feminist leader ahead of her times.
And this is the life and death of a famous mother and her almost-famous son in
a dark and violent world of sexual extremes and extreme comedy.
Maybe that's why it is the best-selling, well-loved modern
classic of modern life, love, and tragedy, that it was and is. In short it is
that which we may still regard as "good reading!"