"If yesterday blindfolds your eyes, I'll bring you tomorrow."
Morrie, son of a Russian immigrant who was unable to give or receive love, lost his mother early to some disease, but lucked out with his stepmother a year later.
He clung to and thrived on the selfless love she bestowed on him, saving his young life so that he could go on to teach young people how to live...and in the end how to die by living.
It is never specified in this 2000 movie (or book that I recall and I updated my review of it today as it was my very first epinion) what subject Morrie taught at Brandeis University, but I would guess Sociology or perhaps Poetry since he loved the W.H. Auden poem September 1, 1939.
While backing out of the campus parking lot to go home one day in the summer of 1994, spry, lovable, seventy-seven year old Morrie suddenly has Lou Gehrig Disease attack his legs and his car crashes into the fence behind him as his legs remain inert.
The disease begins with his legs, but gradually it will travel up his body suffocating his organs until he dies. There doesn't seem to be a cure at all.
Since I read and reviewed the book version, I can compare it with the movie and the movie was a lot more satisfying for me.
Mitch Albom didn't write the book badly (it's an Oprah Winfrey book and movie, after all!), but he is simply a sportswriter who writes from a man's perspective.
The movie was cowritten by him and Thomas Rickman; therefore, Janine and Morrie's loving wife have characters that are fleshed out a bit more, in my opinion.
They have become more than characters from the sidelines to fit into the story as in the book, but inspiring, charismatic presences to cherish.
【India and Intrigue..】
As a long-time John Irving fan, I have never disliked anything Irving has written.
While this is not a Garp or an Owen Meany, John Irving has ambitiously (and impressively) tackled the eastern Indian culture, with its confusing names and customs, a true departure from his usual modus operandi.
Couple that with a murder mystery, a Hollywood Columbo-style detective, and twins separated at birth and you have the makings of a good John Irving novel.
Throw in, for good measure, the sights, smells, and seedier side of humanity that often inhabitant travelling circuses, especially in poverty and disease-stricken countries.
This book was originally intended as a novel within a novel to be written by Ruth Cole, the protagonist of A Widow for a Year.
Certainly a reader of both books can imagine how the two might have fit together, since each deals with a writer's use of a real murder in a work of fiction and each is concerned with the inescapable relationship between fiction and autobiography.
The Dhar movies are successful but dreadful.
When Farrokh attempts to write an artistic screenplay, he knows that he is in over his head, and the contrast between the story he envisions and the real events that he bases it on is painful to him and to the reader.
The doctor's pain here is surely related to John Irving's own disappointment as a screenwriter: his screenplay has languished unmade for xxx years.
Well-constructed characters are John Irving's forte and A Son of the Circus is no exception.
I would recommend this book to die-hard Irving fans definitely.
To others, read The World According to Garp,Hotel New Hampshire, Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany first.★★★★★
Once again, John Irving is the king of endings. He is able to deal with common literary issues in a completely original way, making "A Son of the Circus" more interesting than other novels that deal with characters torn between two cultures,!!
【People, please stop comparing his works to Owen Meany!!】
I read several other Irving Books before I read this, all of which I loved, and while the water-method man did not capture my attention at the beginning as much as garp or owen meany or cider-house rules did, once I had gotten through the first few chapters I was completely enraptured. it is very different than some of the others, but still wonderfully written.
The water-method man manages to be both one of the funniest things that i have ever read and one of the most depressing. it is very honest writing.
Im only fifteen so everything is probably distorted but i think that it is very true to life.
Or at least one kind of life. and merrill overturf is truly an inspiration.
His death was an appropriate tragedy.
What I mean is, the reader was sad when it happened but nothing else quite seems fitting for merrill.
Even if you hate the book or john irving you must finish it just for merrill.
It's difficult to say which irving book is my favorite because I liked all of them except the hotel new hampshire, but the water method man has the some of the most memorable scenes I've ever read.
The Water-Method Man is far from perfect; I don't suppose it will hold up as well as The World According to Garp.
God knows John Irving made me very happy for a while.
Though I'm not a huge movie buff, I've always wondered why this didn't get made into a motion picture.
Of course, John Cusack is too old now to play Bogus, but I've always thought he had a kind of vacancy in his face that would be perfect for the role; he also has the charm, which Bogus obviously must have to attract the women he does.
John Irving writes about flawed men in a way that makes me think he was once a woman, or (surprise) he's a man who's very in touch with his own weaknesses.
Being a woman, I appreciate the honesty (and the humor).☆☆☆☆☆
Definitely a book for the reader who wants to think--and laugh. Enjoy!!!!
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【In which John Irving delivers another brilliant novel】
For five years, "A Prayer for Owen Meany" was without a doubt my favorite book...!!
Then I read "A Widow..." and I am hard pressed to pick a favorite.
I found myself laughing out loud several times throughout the story.
One of the reasons Irving keeps me coming back for more is his ability to capture comedic situations very vividly.
Im on a quest to find out what squid ink really does smell like (yes, that was a blatant attempt to capture your curiosity)...
The book's later parts chart Ruth's life, and the way her past has shaped her.
Ruth, like her father (and mother, and Eddie O'Hare for that matter), is an author. Irving writes chapters of stories by Ruth or Ted, talking about the writing process in ways that both tell the reader a lot about the characters, as well as about how Irving writes.
It's a trick, but a great one -- it's incredibly interesting to learn about how he writes, or what questions might pop into his head, without having to read an exposition on simply that.
As the story progresses, there are wonderful moments and plot twists, all straight from the Irving school of fiction.
Without giving much else of the plot away, what's really interesting is that the book spans 37 years, and we see the characters change and age.
The fact that all of them remain vivid and strong throughout these spans of time is a testatment to Irving. (Some characters also appear in only a few sections, of course -- of these, Hannah, Ruth's friend, is perhaps the best. She's someone you just simply know.)
Is it Irving's best book?
No, but that's not actually a fair question.
A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of the greatest books ever written, so it's not even reasonable to compare this or anything else to it.
But, compared to his other two brilliant works, Garp and Hotel New Hampshire, it holds up incredibly well.
It's definitely in that caliber, and clearly worth your time.★★★★★
【Tedious, tiresome, mysogynistic little book】
John Irving has this thing about nuts in circa-WWII Austria who decide to set free zoo animals but then end up being eaten by the very animals he's just set free.
Irving also has a thing for bears and wrestling.
Just read "The World According to Garp" or "The Hotel New Hampshire" or "Setting Free the Bears."
I'm beginning to think he just recycles his material.
But to be fair, The 158-Pound Marriage came before his more well known novels, so in this book, the mini-story about setting zoo animals free is original.
But its just one mini-story within this bigger story about two couples engaged in this menage-a-quatre.
The guy narrating this bore of a story remains nameless throughout the whole book.
We know that his wife Utch was a little girl living in Austria during WWII.
Utch's lover is Severin Winter, who's a fellow Austrian and a colleague of Utch's husband at the university.
Severin's parents were a lousy painter and a lousy (but beautiful) actress, who managed to escape to London before the Russian invasion. Severin's father is the idiot who set the zoo animals free and then got eaten up by them.
Severin and his mother return to Austria, where he grows up --- not too far away from Utch.
It amazes the narrator to think that the two never crossed paths until now and there's a lot of "What if" scenarios in this book.
Severin is married to the classy and beautiful Edith Fuller, who's a would-be writer who never seems to get her story off the ground.
It's when she starts consulting with our narrator, a historical fiction novelist, that the two couples are drawn together into a bizarre, complicated relationship.***
I say complicated because half the time, the narrator has these paranoid rants about how Severin is really trying to sabotage their arrangement.
The narrator keeps telling his lover, Edith, "If Severin wants us to call this whole thing off, then we will. But not until he tells us to."+++
【Nihilism with A Heart: The World According to Garp】
I'll confess: I have a love/hate relationship with John Irving.
Two of his books ("Garp" and "Owen Meany") are on my all-time favorites list...even after 600+ pages, I found myself wanted more when I finally turned the last page of those two Dickensian tomes.
Even the pitiful shell of a movie that wasn't fit to carry the same name couldn't detract from my admiration (the only good thing in that pitiful reel of celluloid is the song "When I'm 64," which serves as a backdrop for a bouncing naked baby boy during the opening credits).
Garp hooks you right from the start, when you meet his fiercely independent-minded mother, Jenny Fields, a nurse who slashes a leering soldier in a movie theater in the WWII era.
Poor Jenny has no interest whatsoever in men (she is not gay...she just has no sexual interest in anyone).
But the irony is, her wealthy, conservative family believes that she is rutting like a rabbit.
Jenny may not be promiscuous, but she definitely has some unconventional ideas.
She wants a baby, but does not want to become involved with a man to get one.
Since artificial insemination was not yet mainstream in the 1940s, she finds a vegetative soldier with whom to perform her insemination.
I decided to tackle The World According to Garp second because I've actually seen the movie before.
It was a horrible, disjointed story to watch, but while I was reading the book, I kept picturing Williams and Close as Garp and Jenny.
Reading the book was a delightful experience. The best way to describe how I felt is to say that it tickled me.
It charmed me.★★★★★
Sure, the characters are silly and the things that happen to them are outrageous and out of this world, but at the same time you really feel like you know these people as the story progresses.
And in the end, they almost seem real.
As Mark Twain once said, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.***
【Social Examination: Shock Journalism and Hunger For Sex Decried By John Irving】
"The Fourth Hand" is John Irving's tenth novel. If you liked the World of Garp, The Cider Rules and/or Hotel New Hampshire, then you'll want to get your hands on this novel.
Irving's inspiration for this novel came from a new item about a hand transplant that his wife brought to his attention.
"What if someone donated a hand for a transplant and then wanted to keep up a relationship with the hand?" she asked.
This inspired Irving's most recent book.
In the story, TV reporter Patrick Wallingford becomes a story himself when he loses his hand to a caged lion while in India covering a circus.
The hand loss is captured live on film and replayed over and over and over.
For the rest of his life, Patrick will now be referred to as "the lion guy".
Is this a step up from his former nickname "the disaster guy" - a name earned from all the disasters he covers?
Patrick who is in the middle of a divorce, heads back to New York and gets a call a hand transplant expert who wants to attach a new hand.
Dr. Nicholas M. Zajac, a quirky surgeon, with some strange habits, wants to be the first man to perform the operation successfully.
Our hero, still selfish and childish in many ways, learns that true love is indeed possible; but isn't quite sure how to deal with it, or express it.
In the course of events, he learns some things about commitment, family, love, and priorities.
Doris Clausen - a lifetime Green Bay Packers fan - wants to meet the one-handed reporter before the procedure, and insists on visitation rights afterward.
I finished the book in about a day and a half. I couldn't put it down until it was over.
John Irving manages to put all these characters (and a few crazy others) into a very interesting story.***
Could it happen?
Well, maybe not all of it.
It does make you think.
Oh...and in the end...love conquers all. (Don't worry, I didn't give away the ending).★★★★★
【Setting Free the Details】
If you like Irving's work, you will like this book.
This work, my introduction to the brilliant John Irving, was exquisite.
I was drawn into the protagonist's world, and then into another world, via a diary, that the protagonist was pulled into.
These worlds had such texture, rich characters, and fascinating plot developments, that I feared reaching the end of the novel.
It's very wierd but that is what ol' Johnny is all about.
It takes place in Germany and basically involves the plans of two guys to free all of the animals in this zoo.
Of course, it doesn't go all to plan...but it is a very creative and interesting story by the then-budding novelist Irving.
So basically you will not be disappointed by this novel if you like his other stuff.
If you have never read anything by Irving, I would suggest you start with "A Prayer for Owen Meany."
I can say: all anyone has is their pre-history.
Feeling that you live at an interim time is something in the nature of being born and all the things that never happen to you after birth."
If these words strike a chord with you, this is a book you should read.
It is closer to "The Cider House Rules" or "A Prayer For Owen Meany" in character but is more cohesive; it is fantastic but wisely stops short of the extremes of "The World According to Garp" or "The Hotel New Hampshire".
It is a novel full of ghosts, of surreal acknowledgement of the things that *do* happen to us after birth, even as we fail to recognize their importance.☆☆☆☆
This is an especially good read if you're not a huge Irving fan.
Much more complex underneath, it does take an appreciation of fine art to understand the subtle nuances in this book, and if you're used to mainstream (boring) fiction, you may not like it.
To my utmost satisfaction however, the work culminated in a thrilling and deeply gratifying series of events, and i left this novel at peace with myself and the world.*****
【Atmospheric, haunting children's book!!】
As both a die-hard John Irving fan and a lifetime worshipper of really beautiful picture books for children, the knowledge that the two would be combined in one package was hard to resist.**
And indeed, Im glad I didnt resist it, as for the most part this was exactly what my expectations had demanded.
A Sound Like Someone Trying Not To Make A Sound first appeared as part of Irving's novel A Widow For One Year.
As with most brooding and beautifully illustrated children’s books, such as Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are, it is much more haunting and memorable.☆☆☆☆☆
Each picture made me think of Where's Waldo without the clutter: each gentle scene seems ordinary at first until you realise there's something odd the bulge in the blank wall, the bunched, lifelike cushion, unusual shadow, or Ted(dy) peeking curiously into Tim's cot.
Its spooky, but in a familiar way.
This is not a long story, and the writing is broken into short chunks, occasionally interspersed by two-page spread illustrations, slowing down the pace and letting the creativity and wonderment be gently savoured. This is not a straightforward story with a happy ending.
It is more an attempt to voice that which is most difficult to voice (irrational fear) for those for whom it is hardest to put it into conventional language.
Perhaps a parent would appreciate it more at first, but I think that any child who likes dreamy, imaginative stories would find something to treasure in it.
Because I had been seeing Ted's books in my head, with those pen and ink illustrations that are my favourites, for so long, this didn’t look exactly as I expected.
But I think those pen and ink illustrations, those scratchings of my psyche, really would have alienated a small child.
This way, with the prettiness of Tatjana Hauptmann's work, they have an honest chance to get involved in the images and tell their own stories.!!
【Cider House RULES】
John Irving is an amazing, vibrant and poignant storyteller.
Most writers just write, but read any book by John Irving, and you feel as though you actually known the characters forever.
You feel like you're listening to a story rather than reading it.
Cider House Rules is a story of growing up both literally and metaphorically; we see the main character develop from the black and white world of childhood to the pretty grey world of grown-ups where everything is just more complicated.
The Cider House Rules has been ignored by the popular media for so long it was in danger of becoming lost! It's about time it got the praise & notice it deserves.
Like all John Irving books, Cider House delves deeply into the hidden recesses of the human heart.
Showing lovable, believable characters as both the heroes and villians of their own lives, Irving creates an atmosphere of companionship- his characters feel like friends.
As mentioned by another reviewer, even characters you don't like are impossible to hate.
This book, too, is the original pro-choice/ pro-life argument, with its core wrapped around the issue of the sanctity of life versus the unwanted children, both in the orphanage and the Dr.'s "patients".
Truly a "deep" book, with layers of meaning that will have you reading it over and over.***
Irving captures the entire process in an especially captivating way and Cider House Rules is a book I'm sure most people are able to relate to.
The best part about reading anything by John Irving is that no detail is lost and each word (and idea) is threaded into his work like a tapestry.
Anyone who enjoys Irving might also enjoy reading Banana Yoshimoto, a young Japanese writer whose crisp prose, like Irving's, seduces the reader into her text.
My favorite story by her is called Kitchen. Irving also reminds me of Milan Kundera, author of the Unbearable Lightness of Being.★★★★★