The novel contains several framed narratives: Garp's first novella, The Pension Grillparzer; a short story; and a portion of one of his novels, The World According to Bensenhaver. As well, the book contains some motifs that appear in almost all John Irving novels: bears, wrestling, Vienna, New England, people who are uninterested in having sex, and a complex Dickensian plot that spans the protagonist's whole life. Adultery (another common Irving motif) also plays a large part, culminating in one of the novel's most harrowing and memorable scenes. There is also a tincture of another familiar Irving trope, castration anxiety, most obvious in the lamentable fate of Michael Milton.
Being unfaithful has been tackled in different occasions in the book (especially between Garp and Helen) and although I know it is reality, it’s just not in my book. And so, it struck me as absurd and unrealistic as it also exhibits a strong love between them. It was like Garp is still a boy that lust has been the centre of his thoughts almost all the time.
The story is simple but with the turn of events or series of events – it is evolving – it has become complicated.
This is one of those books that have been adapted to a movie that I wouldn’t like to see. Although, I would be tempted for the reason that I want to see how they played out those small scenes that make the story cumbersome for me.