music, reading, writing

The World According to Garp and John Prine: Double whammy kismet

It’s strange how you make a simple choice, then the universe sends you signs that it wasn’t a simple choice at all, there is a reason you made the decision you did. Kismet.

In the summer, I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to read The World According to Garp by John Irving again. He found a beautiful 30th anniversary edition at Russell Books, our phenomenal secondhand bookstore, for my birthday.

I recently finished the book, at 606 pages it’s not a quick read, but definitely worth it. I enjoyed its blend of comedic tragedy and serious social observation as much this time as the many other times I read it. Then, this interview with John Irving appeared on CBC the other day, discussing how the book should be a period piece but is more relevant today than ever on its 40th anniversary.

The World According to Garp is a book about sexual violence. Irving wrote it in 1978, in a time when it was still unusual to have a transsexual character. Roberta Muldoon, a former tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles, remains one of Irving’s favourite characters.

He doesn’t endorse the 1982 film starring Robin Williams because he felt that Williams was too sweet to play the character of Garp. More problematic, he felt the character of Roberta was satirized, not allowing John Lithgow to exude the power of the character that Irving imagined and portrayed in the novel. He saw the film as making a joke of the whole LGTBQ community, which was the opposite of Irving’s intent.

A mini-series is in development, 5 parts, 55 minutes each. Irving is involved this time, so it will be fascinating to see how it comes alive in that format. I need to watch the film version again, I only saw it once years ago. It will be interesting to watch it again, knowing Irving’s position about it.

I used to say I wasn’t a political person, but the truth is in the broad sense, we are all political in every choice that we make every day. It doesn’t mean we are following every absurd political news story. The way we behave in the world, the way we treat other humans, those are our politics. What we stand by and put up with when the oppressors walk all over the minorities, those are our politics. Our apathy, the lack of reverence for the right to vote, those are our politics.

It’s a fairly long interview at 45 minutes but very interesting, particularly if you’re a writer, but also his commentary on the politics of today. There is a reason he has lived in Canada for the last three years, and plans to become a Canadian citizen. His ultimate philosophy is “You have to be kind.” Simple. True.

In another wink to kismet, they mention John Prine in the interview. I had never heard of him but he’s an American country folk singer and songwriter that has been around since the 70s. He recently released a new album, The Tree Of Forgiveness, and my husband found these incredible videos on Youtube. I’m not a country music fan in any way, but these are wonderful songs. Enjoy!

Summer’s End – Get some tissues ready.

When I Get to Heaven – Listen for the dad’s awesome advice near the end! 🤣🤣🤣

NaNoWriMo update: I did it, I got to 50,000 words, which technically means that I won. My goal though, is to get a proper edit done on all twenty chapters. I’m only on chapter 10, so… not so on track. But I’ll get there! Good luck to any other wrimos out there!

Have a wonderful week everyone!

❤️ Amanda

7 thoughts on “The World According to Garp and John Prine: Double whammy kismet”

  1. John Irving is hands down my favorite author. Garp is my first read and I was immediately hooked. I then went back and read his earlier stuff. I’ve read everything else but Owen Meaney changed my life.
    I liked the movie, I thought Lithgow was brilliant and Robin Williams was perfect. And I’m a big critic of movie adaptations.
    I can’t wait to see the mini series and if you want to talk about Irving I’m your man!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent!! I read Garp a few times and Hotel New Hampshire way back when but I haven’t read anything else. I so loved rereading it though, his writing is phenomenal, I’ll definitely be going through the rest of them!! Maybe I’ll start with Owen Meaney. I remember liking the movie at the time too, that’s why it will be interesting to watch it again knowing Irving’s take on it. And yes, the mini-series!! Thanks so much for your comment!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post and an interesting connection between Prine and Irving! Thank you! Will be interested to see how the new series deals with the text comparative to the movie adaptation!

    Liked by 1 person

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