Илья - Reading log
May 4th, 2014
01:47 pm

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Reading log
John Irving, The World According to Garp (1978, re-reading). A novel about the extremes of sexuality ("lust" as the main character's mother always calls it), marriage, parenting and feminism. It is a biography of a writer from conception (his mother wants a child but doesn't want to have anything to do with men, so she rapes a dying brain-damaged soldier in the hospital where she works as a nurse) till death in his 30s (he is murdered by a radical feminist younger sister of the woman with whom he had his first sexual experience). There is a lot about writing, including excerpts from three of the writer's own books: a story about an Austrian family's encounter with a bizarre Hungarian circus, a story about a neighborhood vigilante, and a novel chapter about a young mother who is kidnapped by a teenage farmer who intends to rape and murder her; he does rape her, but she gets the better of him, and succeeds in murdering him instead. The writer's mother is a nurse by occupation, not a writer, but she becomes a famous feminist with her memoir, which begins, "In this dirty-minded world you are either somebody's wife or somebody's whore, or fast on your way to becoming one or the other." (which she avoided, yet still got pregnant by raping the wounded soldier). Overall there is a grotesque concentration of both the tragic and the comic, both in the novel itself and in one of the main character's novels; when a reader complains about it, the writer replies with his justifications, but their correspondence quickly degenerates into insults.

I first read this novel about 15 years ago, and remember thinking it too cute, though the novel-within-the-novel chapter about kidnapping and rape sickened me. Now I think that the cuteness level is just right for the kind of novel Irving chose to write. There haven't been that many books that made me guffaw, and this is one of them (for example, when in the novel-within-the-novel the detective says to the brothers of the kidnapper farmer that sexual crimes, including not helping law enforcement investigate a rape-in-progress, are now punishable by castration).

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From:levgilman
Date:May 5th, 2014 03:41 am (UTC)
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После последней запятой - что-то не понял. Наказание кастрацией включает неоказание помощии в... как это?
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From:ygam
Date:May 5th, 2014 03:45 am (UTC)
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Неоказание помощи в расследовании происходящего в данный момент изнасилования.
From:levgilman
Date:May 5th, 2014 12:12 pm (UTC)
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А, понял - это преступление в числе наказываемых кастрацией. А что, это правильное построение предложения? Я-то думал, что оное неоказание помощи входит в состав наказания кастрацией, поэтому ничего и не понял.
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From:ygam
Date:May 5th, 2014 03:41 pm (UTC)
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Переписал.

Edited at 2014-05-05 04:10 pm (UTC)
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