The World According to Garp
by John IrvingPublished 1978 609 pages
Holy moly where has John Irving been all my life?
This is the kind of fiction I get out of bed for. Just within the boundaries of reality—all plausible but not probable, characters just believable enough, with lives so jam-packed with experience and opinion that you're just dying to try and make friends with them. Gesturing to shared human experience without high-roading the reader. Like don't get me wrong, I like some Dostoyevsky, but this is where it's at for me.
Garp is such a fantastic character, as well. I think I was expecting a bit of a buffoon, someone with too many flaws—but Garp toes the line between flawed and competent (are those opposites?). Like all of the characters in the book, he felt vivid and real and interesting.
The World According to Garp feels like the novel that Wes Anderson keeps trying to make with his movies—I suppose he's come close with The Royal Tenenbaums. No idea why I hadn't been recommended this before now.