American Literature

J.D. Salinger
Michael Crichton

John Irving's

The World According to Garp
The Hotel New Hampshire
The Son of the Circus
Interview with Frank McCourt
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J.D. SALINGER (1/1/1919)                                       
All of those who loved J. D. Salinger' s Catcher in the Rye and got disappointed when his  next novel Franny and Zooey published in 1961 was not followed by anything can now afford a smile. His friends say that J D Salinger may have many unpublished works in his safe. It is believed that the unpublished works all revolve around the fictional Glass family, the central figures in Franny and Zooey.
                                                                                              J D Salinger was born in New York on 1st January 1919. At present,  he lives at a recluse on his estate in Cornish, a town less than 2000 people near Vermont Border.


 - Adapted from the Asian Age
   March 23, 1999

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John Irving


[The World According To Garp]

[The Hotel New Hampshire]

[The Son of the Circus]



The World According to Garp:
                                                                               This was John Irving's fifth novel to be published after The Cider House Rules, The 158-LB Marriage, The Hotel New Hampshire and Setting Free The Bears and undoubtedly his most popular novel up to now. Here I am going to present a review of this novel.

If it is a weird book you want to read then this would be it. It is one of the most acclaimed novels published in the past decade or so the book claims. It is quite a brilliant one actually. John Irving, the author has admitted to being a 'grim child'. He knew right from the time he graduated school that he wanted to be a writer. And though he's written many novels before it was with The World According To Garp that gave him the recognition he deserved.

While reading this book, John hopes that it would "cause a few smiles among the tough-minded and break a few softer hearts." Along the way one would feel a sense of pity for the protagonist in the novel, Garp. He goes through an intense roller coaster ride that attract 'kindly whores, assassins, school teachers, wrestlers,....'

The Washington Post describes this contemporary fiction as  "A wonderful novel, full of energy and art, at once funny and heartbreaking....You know The World According To Garp is true. It is also terrific."

So see the World through the eyes of Garp. You might just be glad that yours isn't as complicated and almost blasphemous as his.
Source- Cox and Wyman Ltd                                                                                                             

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The Hotel New Hampshire:
John Irving's books have been a favorite with Hollywood directors desperately attempting to visualize on screen the magic that is found in his stories. But they have never quite succeeded, with a few exceptions like The World According To Garp and the Cider House Rules.

The Hotel New Hampshire tells the story of a bizarre Berry family and the quirky way their life rolls on as they shift from one hotel to another-their home. It's the father, Winslow Berry, who has an overwhelming desire to run hotels and he does it with utmost efficiency. It's almost like his second love-his first, of course being his wife, Mary- a portrait of a dutiful wife and mother. She raises the kids (five of them) while waiting patiently for her husband who studies in Harvard and then later travels. Above all it is the five Berry children that grip the reader- Frank the eldest who is a gay followed by Franny the most outstanding member of the family. She has the strength of a man and then breaks down in a quicker fashion. She lies confused in many ways and at the same time her family holds much respect for her thoughts and opinions. John, the narrator seems like a regular, nice guy, but his incestuous relationship with Franny could prop up some questions in your head. Lily finds comfort in spending hours in writing an autobiography, which later helps in escalating Frank and Franny's career to new heights. She has never been the most popular daughter in the family, what with Franny around. Egg, the youngest pretty much acts his age and as the trend goes has siblings to look up to and for guidance when required.

There wasn't a moment when the story got monotonous. The most gripping moments in the story are usually attached with the death of their pet Labrador, Sorrow. Death is inevitable and death is repetitive  and this is portrayed in the books with the death of Sorrow. Sorrow never really dies and shows up in different phases of the Berry family- in the form of their grandfather Bob and their mother Mary and their youngest Egg- 'Sorrow floats', says John Irving in the book, and no one could agree with him more. If it was not in the form of death, it rose its ugly head in the form of Franny getting raped, the incest relationship between John and Franny and in the form of their father going blind. But the brighter was that Love floats too. And it sure does, by the end of the story, you are left flabbergasted at the strength of the Berry family-the love that binds them together and their courage to face their misfortune and turn it into something good.

There is one part in the book, when Winslow is talking with his son, John in a bar, he says, " Human beings are remarkable- at what we can learn to live with. If we could not get strong from what we lose and what we miss and what we want and can't have, then we couldn't ever get strong enough, could we? What else makes us strong?" Can you disagree with that?


The Son of the Circus:
                                                   In his latest novel, " The Son of the Circus", John Irving tells the story of Farrokh Daruwallah, a 59 year old Indian doctor who studied medicine in Austria and lives in Toronto, nut returns every few years to Bombay. There he works for several months at a time at an orthopedic hospital which specializes in the care of crippled children.

Dr. Daruwallah is also an habitué' of several circuses that feature dwarfs-mainly, he claims, in order to further his interest in the causes of dwarfism. But in another mood, he also admits that the circus has become for him " part of a beloved bedtime story"' in which he admires it as " an orderly, well kept oasis" for all its performers, especially its dwarfs, in a "world of disease and chaos."

During Dr. Daruwallah's latest visit to India, a fellow member of the pukka Duckworth Club is found murdered on the golf course. The vultures are already ravaging the victim's face when the doctor find the body. the search for the killer leads Dr. Daruwallah and half a dozen other characters through the worst of Bombay's slums, and through the poorest of its red-light districts. Here they encounter "cage women" and the grotesque hijra, eunuch- transvestites who for centuries have practiced  a ritualistic sex-change operations.

Mr. Irving the writer of such bestsellers like "The World According To Garp" and "The Hotel New Hampshire" is at the peak of his powers in this new novel. He plunges the reader into one sensual or grotesque scene after another with cheerful vigor and a madcap tenderness for life. Although his Daruwallah is supposed to be "Everyman", none of his experiences have much connection with the everyday world.

One subplot involves a giant dildo used both for sensual pleasure and to smuggle money and drugs; another involves a movie star who compulsively exposes her breasts  and causes a miniature riot by fainting after a cow sneezes on her. The author knows what he is doing from first to last, and handles the dozens of strands of his plot with exuberant ease. "The Son Of the Circus" is entertainment on a grand scale.

Source- The Economist        


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Grisham's 11th novel titled Brethren with a first printing from Doubleday of 2.8 million copies shared attention with his another new work, A Painted House , a semi autobiographical story about a boy growing up in Arkansas. He wrote this book as a serial novel for the Oxford American, a southern literary magazine based in Oxford, Mississippi. The first of six installments appeared in the January/February issue of the bimonthly.  With A Painted House, Grisham has followed the lead of Tom Wolfe, who turned out The Bonfire of the Vanities in the pages of Rolling Stone, working against the magazine's biweekly deadlines.
                                                                                                                      Brethren is the tale of three former judges, all locked in a federal prison, who devise a money-making scam out in the free world that victimizes an innocent man with dangerous allies.

Official website of John Grisham

"The drudgery and toil of the cotton harvest made you wonder why anyone would want to be a farmer. There was no future in it.", says the narrator, speaking of Grisham's own experience picking cotton as a child.
                                      -A Painted House

Oxford American calls itself 'The Southern Magazine of Good Writing" was launched in 1992. During a financial crisis two years later, it was helped along by an investment from Grisham who later became a co-owner and its publisher.

The Magazine's Web Site

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