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Tuesday, October 02, 2007


My recent post on reading, in which I praised John Irving, prompted the Legal Diva to pick up 'The World According To Garp', 'The Hotel New Hampshire', and 'A Prayer for Owen Meany'. I suggested that she read them in that order. I started with 'Garp', read 'The Hotel New Hampshire' next, followed by 'The Cider House Rules', and then 'Owen Meany' when it was published in 1989.

John was slow to follow up 'Owen Meany', so at the insistence of Mike the bartender at Caliente I went back and read his first three novels: 'Setting Free the Bears', 'The Water-Method Man', and 'The 158 Pound Marriage'. The latter two didn't leave me with much of an impression, they are decent, but not great.

'Setting Free the Bears', his first novel, however, is a very interesting book, which has prompted a recent re-read, which in turn prompted the post which prompted the purchase that prompted this post.

What's remarkable about 'Setting Free the Bears' is how unusual it is. Irving's arena is the unusual, but his first novel is unusual in relation to his body of work that followed.

'Setting Free the Bears' isn't written in 'the voice'. It's almost as if somebody else wrote it - except for the bears.

As I wrap up that re-read, I look forward to another pass through 'Owen Meany' before I go out and get another copy of 'Son of the Circus' for the Legal Diva to read after she's done with her first course. I think I might just read that one again too...........

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