This will be a short post that really doesn't have anything to do with my birthday and instead has more to do with one of my favorite authors.
John Irving, could quite possibly be my favorite author due to the fact that his stories involve ordinary people who do extraordinary things. Most of the events that happen in his novels are plausible even though they seem so bizarre. His characters are memorable due to their names and to the wild journeys they go through. He frequently has themes or ideas he uses, but they are set-up as a backdrop to the larger themes and journeys as a whole. While I personally wish his stories could be female journeys, most of his journeys have male protagonists. However, the females that he does write about are strong and amazing characters in their own right. As such, I'm going to give a little synopsis about each of the novels I've read, including the one I'm currently in progress with. I don't want to ruin the plot of each, but I will at least discuss a couple of ideas.
The World According to Garp: This was the first novel I read, based on my going through novels I didn't read during my senior year of high school that I probably would've appreciated. The strong themes in this novel are feminism, a father's fears, writing and the ups & downs of marriage. Though the novel even has a male in the title, the novel is expresses both the positive and negative aspects of pro-feminism in engaging light. The novel also shows the journey of a man through adolescence, marriage, fatherhood and how all of this connects the job of a writer. Lastly, my favorite character here is Garp's mother, Jenny Fields.
A Prayer for Owen Meany: I read this novel based on a couple of friends obsession with it in college. The themes prevalent here are death, religion, military (in the latter part) and friendship. Religion is a huge factor in this novel and for a fairly non-religious person such as myself, I found the religion to not be overbearing. Instead the religion becomes a chance to create wonderful situations throughout the novel. How religion equates to death is brilliant theme that creates some philosophical ideas that one can continue to ponder when the novel is done. It also displays one of the greatest bonds of friendship that can happen in the journey of two boys. Lastly, my favorite character is of course Owen Meany, there are not too many characters as brilliantly written as him.
The Cider House Rules: I decided to read this novel as recommendation from a good friend, Amber. She loves John Irving as well and said if I loved the other two, I need to read this one as well. The strong themes here are orphans, obstetrics, and class level. There is a varied sense of classes on display here from poverty, racial class levels, earned wealth and hereditary wealth. Orphans are also a huge part of this story from John Irving's theme of a boy on a journey to his love of Charles Dickens (I will read David Copperfield next). Along with that, is the theme of abortion v. pregnancy and how it relates to orphans, women and more. To be honest, after this novel I'm a bit more pro-choice than before; you'll have to read it for your own thoughts. Lastly, Dr. Wilbur Larch is my favorite character for all that he does and as much as he cares for children that aren't his own -relatable to teaching.
Hotel New Hampshire: So far this novel has been just as fun as the others. It overall, doesn't seem as strong as the other three, but it has its merits as it is still John Irving. I wouldn't tell you to start with this one, but it's still has all the bizarreness and wonderfulness of the others. So far the strongest theme besides the usual coming-of-age story for a boy, seems to be family and what that means to each other. I would put identity in terms of entrepreneurship/finding your own path, but we'll see when I get there.
One other note, the writing styles of each novel are all different. Cider House Rules is his best written novel and features several protagonists. The World According to Garp has written excerpts from Garp's book. Prayer for Owen Meany, seems to back and forth in time. The Hotel New Hampshire is very vignette based as chapters have a whole and complete idea to them specifically.
Anyways, go check him out!!!