Sunday, 31 July 2011
John Irving's The World According to Garp is a fictional biography of a peculiar writer and his loves, loss and occasional lunacy. I've never read any Irving before so was pleasantly surprised by the rich characters, sharp wit and bizarre twists and turns shoehorned into it's 600 pages. Irving swings the narrative in and out of the darkness with alacrity and peppered as it is with sex, death, writing, wrestling, short stories, assassination and imagination this dizzying read attempts a simulacrum of life itself and makes a surprisingly entertaining effort. Sure it drags a little in the last third and it's maybe a little dated 30+ years later but it's well worth reading.
John Wyndham's scifi has a unique flavour and The Chrysalids, despite being a novel for young adults, is one of his best. A post apocalyptic agrarian community is determined to destroy signs of genetic abnormality but a bunch of kids develop a hive mind telepathy and struggle to hide their presence. It's to Wyndham's credit that he weaves some interesting ideas throughout the fairly simplistic or maybe lean adventure and like most of his novels it's a little dark, a little melancholy, anyways I loved it. I guess it's been overlooked as he returned to the telepathic kids trope in the more famous Midwich Cuckoos - a shame as this is a much better read.