Disgusting and awful. Irving can be excellent at times (A Prayer for Owen Meany, Ciderhouse Rules, Garp for example), BUT he can also dwell in the gutter with endless boring pondering of wet dreams and grotesque sexual encounters. Do not read.
As an aspiring writer, I find John Irving and interesting study in the joys and curses of success. Garp, Owen Meany and Cider House Rules are -- and you may thing I'm overstating this -- classics in late 20th century literature. I was pleased to see Owen Meany on the "School Summer Reading" shelf at my local bookstore.
That said, Irving's other works all suffer from comparison to these three landmarks. Widow for One Year and The Fourth Hand are both commendable works of fiction. Irving's mixture of unique characters and biting situations are quite adept. This book is a "strong recommend," but will inevitably suffer by comparison. Better for readers to evaluate on it on its own merits.
Even as far as odd John Irving books go, this one was really, really odd. A fairly engrossing book, with some witty jabs at modern pop culture. The book focuses on Patrick Wallingford, a reporter and later anchor of a CNN-like news network who becomes known as "The Lion Guy" because of an unfortunate incident with a lion while on film. Like many other Irving novels, the story becomes so twisty and turny that it's hard to share the story without sounding like a madwoman. Intriguing, but not great overall.
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