A Son of the Circus by John Irving: A Book Review

Somewhere in a vacuous universe of this tube, Joey bumped into GR.

Joey: Hi, you look familiar with me. Have we met before? You must be … one of my friends on Good Reads!

GR: Oh, yeah! You are …Joey! ( overwhelmed )

Joey: And you are …GR! Oh, it’s nice to see ya here! ( shaking hands with GR)

GR: Oh, yeah! As though we haven’t seen each other for ages! ( laughs)
( then she saw a book Joey holding) Oh, you must be reading something. ( trying to look through it) Wait ! wait! Wait! You have been reading John Irving’s ?

Joey: ( hiding the book behind his back ) Ah,huh…er… I have. ( smiling )

GR: What’s the title?

Joey: Ah…er..A Son of the Circus.

GR: Oh, really? Wait! ( thinking ) Is not that on the list of 1001 Best Novels of All Time? ( giggling)

Joey: Oh, yeah! You are right!

GR: I said it. So,what do you think of it?( excited )

Joey: Ah.. er..Well, H-how bout you? What have you been reading?

GR : Oh, I have just finished a chicklit by Rainbow Rowell. OMG! It’ terrific. I recommend you read it. It’s heart-breaking!In fact, it won …..

Joey: Oh, really?

GR: So , Is John Irving’s interesting?

Joey: Er..I think I have heard a lot of good things about Rowell. I would love to read hers too.

GR: Oh, yeah ! Come on! Get on with it! Then, let me know what you think of it. I am so excited !What was it again? Oh, yeah! It is John…

Joey : Ah,( looking at his watch ) er.. I am sorry! I’ve got to go! Nice to meet you again, GR. Chat you on Good reads. ( walking past him in a hurry)

GR: Er..H-how about …? Wait! ( waving his hand ) Ok. ( watching him fading away ) …Is there something the matter with the book? ( muttering under his breath, despaired)

When GR was home, he logged into his Goodreads account. The first message popped was from Joey’s.

To: GR
From: Joey

Hi, GR. I’ve checked that you haven’t read A Son of the Circus by John Irving’s yet.Well, I don’’t wanna be a spoiler. If you wanna read it, have LONG PATIENCE.
Otherwise, you might end up laying it to rest.
Good luck!


At last, I finished this 708 –page novel since I had let it on my study table collect mote of dust as well as get stuck and musty in my currently-reading list on Goodreads for a year. Gee, at that time I still found it very humorous, replete with amusing themes I could not find from other novels, as well as I was impressed by its firs immortal THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP ( 4 stars ). In fact, I was tempted to read first thereupon buying his A WIDOW FOR ONE YEAR because I was fascinated by its softbound cover. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. So, automatically, I gave it 1 star. And for the second time around, A SON OF THE CIRCUS is somewhat less disappointing than the former . What’s the matter? In effect, doubtless , John Irving is a gifted writer. I liked the fact that he is able to write such ambitious novels as though he does not have to deal with a writer’s block, as if he never runs out of any ideas. Besides, it is amazing of him to jumble up his different themes together in the same concept. On the other hand, since it is now my third novel, I am now getting more familiar with his writing style than that I found out why I gave both A WIDOW FOR ONE YEAR and this one 1 star. First, Irving loves dilly-dallying with his stories as I thought of before. He tends to beat around the bush. He does not stick to the main story. Rather, he tells more details about a superficial situation I am not very much familiar with. . Who cares? Thus, the narrator sounds to be blabbering.

Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah!

Furthermore, I have noticed that John Irving loves repeating the same stories in the other chapters in a sense that they are all connected- a writing style that is doubtless very rare among other writers. However, such style is persistent in a sense that it ends up a pain in the ass. Imagine a plot goes like this :

Chapter 1 : You read a story …………………..blah! blah! blah!
Chapter 2: You read another story…….then here it goes again, the same with Chapter 1…blah! blah! blah!

I am telling you. You need a considerable amount of long patience to finish it.

Granted that this is less disappointing, I believe that this is still a masterpiece. For me , any piece of literary work is a labor of writing skills. Alas, it’s beyond my taste. But as the cliché goes,” There must be the method to Irving’s madness.”, and this is on what I want to be shed light someday.

I still have his two novels more on my shelf: A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY and UNTIL I FIND YOU. I wonder if he wrote them with the same style. Dear me!


2 thoughts on “A Son of the Circus by John Irving: A Book Review

  1. I have read one John Irving book, A Prayer for Owen Meany. And just like you, this was in my currently-reading list on Goodreads for almost a year. I didn’t know that his other books has that effect too. Hehe! I thought it’s not the book, it’s me, thinking I was just not in the mood to read it. But now I’m not sure. But I rated the book 4 stars. I think it was dragging for about 2/3, but for me, the story was redeemed in the last third. And I was proud that I finished it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Same here. The good thing about Irving is that he really knows his stuff. Gee, how could I take a fancy to his other books on my shelf. Sayang ang pera. kkk Anyway, they are included on 1001 Best Novels naman kasi. ^^


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