I am presently about 50 pages into John Irving's A Widow for One Year
, and I'm already hooked. The question, of course, with an Irving novel, is whether I'll stay hooked throughout the rest of it. All of his works are long--I've read critiques that compare him to Dickens, and I suppose the main difference between them is that, as far as I know, Irving is NOT paid by the word--and some books can be a challenge to get through. Irving is not a subtle writer; he explains pretty much everything, and he sometimes smacks you with symbolism until your eyes want to bleed and you want to scream, "Quit it! I get it already!"
But I really like him, although I haven't read much of his recent work. Aside from this one, I guess the most recent I read was A Prayer for Owen Meany
, and I almost gave up on that one, for the reasons listed above. But I plowed through, and the ending definitely justified everything else. My favorites, though, are all oldies that I've read several times each: The Water-Method Man
(arguably the funniest of his books), The World According to Garp
(which is about a writer), and The Hotel New Hampshire
(which, along with Garp
, includes all the early Irving trademarks: bears, wrestling, New England, Austria, rape, death of a child). The 158-Pound Marriage
is the only novel of his that I really disliked and would never recommend--the characters are all hateful, and the story was indulgent. Setting Free the Bears
, his first novel, is flawed but interesting.
Thus far, Garp
is my favorite. What's your favorite? Or, what do you think of Irving?