Readers, working my way through my post baby book queue, I finally finished a book I started and stopped many times over the last year: THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, by John Irving. And I hated it. Absolutely hated it. Like threw it to the floor and considered stomping on it I hated it so much. The characters were beautifully written; I loved Jenny and Duncan, I loved little Walt, I loved Roberta Muldoon and the original Ellen James. But it is so sad. So tragic. So senselessly tragic. Maybe I was supposed to laugh at how unbelievably heartbreaking it was, but I couldn’t.

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So of course, I went to the reviews, and they are overwhelmingly positive. The New York Times wrote a rave review calling it a “Study in Laughter”:

It is not the first time we have laughed for what seem to be inappropriate reasons, nor will it be the last. In fact, we find ourselves laughing throughout “The World According to Garp,” and at some of the damndest things. We laugh at Garp’s father, Technical Sergeant Garp (hence his son’s name, T.S. Garp), who takes shrapnel in the brain during World War II and dies of regressive infantilism. We laugh at Garp’s mother, Jenny Fields, who becomes a feminist leader simply because she prefers to live without men. We even laugh at a group of Jenny’s followers, the speechless Ellen Jamesians, who have mutilated themselves out of sympathy for Ellen James, a 10-year-old girl who has been raped and had her tongue cut out.

Am I missing something here? Do all of you trusted readers call this a beloved and most powerful, passionate, and funny work of fiction? Is it a great work because I have such strong feelings against it? Do I need to read it again to really “study the laughter?” Would love thoughts, positive or negative, but for now, will leave you with an image of John Lithgow as Roberta Muldoon, which makes me think maybe, just maybe, I need to see the movie…

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