There are some books in existence that are simply must-reads. The World According to Garp is very much one of those books.
Irving has written a novel of such simple complexity that it astounds the reader time after time. With this novel the statement is conveyed that all the nuances of life are important; every minute of your day, no matter how mundane, is integral to your overall existence. You never know what seemingly insignificant instant will arise to change your life in ways unfathomable at the most unexpected of moments. This is something we’ve all probably thought about at some junction of our lives, but never have I seen it take place in a novel as seamlessly and expertly as in The World According to Garp.
We meet Garp long before he is born in this novel, and we follow his story long after he is gone. (This is ruining nothing of the plot, the chapters on the contents page tell you as such.) I’m not sure most of us would like Garp if we knew him in our regular lives, but he is a character of such complexity, of such “trueness,” that one can’t help but become enamored with him. His victories are our victories. His mistakes are our mistakes. His neuroses are our neuroses, and so on. You will see something of yourself in Garp, and it will probably be an aspect you are not particularly proud of.
This story is epic in plot, though you don’t realize it until you’ve finished reading. The sentences are expertly rendered, the characters are developed just enough without becoming superfluous; everything about this book works. In my mind, it is an instant classic, to be cherished and read by all.