A Son of the Circus

A Son of the Circus A Hindi Film Star An American Missionary Twins Separated At Birth A Dwarf Chauffeur A Serial Killer All Are On A Collision Course In The Tradition Of A Prayer For Owen Meany, Irving S Characters Transcend Nationality They Are Misfits Coming From Everywhere, Belonging Nowhere Set Almost Entirely In India, This Is John Irving S Most Ambitious Novel And A Major Publishing Event

JOHN IRVING was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942 His first novel, Setting Free the Bears, was published in 1968, when he was twenty six He competed as a wrestler for twenty years, and coached wrestling until he was forty seven Mr Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times winning once, in 1980, for his novel The World According to Garp He received an O Henry Award

[PDF / Epub] ☆ A Son of the Circus Author John Irving – Uc0.info
  • Paperback
  • 680 pages
  • A Son of the Circus
  • John Irving
  • English
  • 10 April 2019
  • 9780345915627

10 thoughts on “A Son of the Circus

  1. says:

    The son of the circus from the title is Doctor Farokh Daruwalla, a somewhat surprising choice as main character that has to carry on his shoulders such a hefty narrative At first glance he is a placid little man, of a rather short stature and rotund girth, neat and fussy but in general shy and insecure As I followed his interior monologues for page after page I have come to compare him to a still pond that hides great depths beneath the calm surface as a Parsi and a Christian, a Bombayite and a Torontonian, an orthopedic surgeon and a dwarf blood collector, Dr Daruwalla could never have been satisfied by just one club The choice of focus on this confused, conflicted personage was intentional on the part of the author, who probably has little use for clear cut, opinionated, inflexible heroes And Dr Daruwalla is a true hero of the ordinary kind I m thinking Ikiru , trying to do good even when he is not sure of the right path doing unpaid work in children hospitals, researching a cure for genetical dwarfism, rescuing street urchins, raising other people s abandoned offspring, being a good husband and father, volunteering to help the terminally ill His insecuritites and his unquenchable curiosity are in fact the motors that constantly push him forward, together with a rampant imagination and ingrained sense of justice The doctor was no the incarnation of a god than he was a writer he was, like most men, principally a dreamer Bored by the routine of a successful professional and family life, he seeks to discharge his creative energies through writing, specifically Bollywood film scripts His shyness and self deprecation will make him act from the shadows, renouncing the limelight for the quiet satisfaction of the secret observer of human folly The results are often than not absolutely hilarious, and I would rate A Son of the Circus as one of the best comedies I ve read this year For sure, the humor is often bitter and sarcastic, aimed equally at the outside world and at his own person Farrokh had conceived Inspector Dhar in the spirit of satire of quality satire Why were there so many easily offended people Why had they reacted to Inspector Dhar so humorlessly Had they no appreciation for comedy Only now, when he was almost 60, did it occur to Farrokh that he was his father s son in this respect he d uncovered a natural talent for pissing people off or, Except when eating, Farrokh embraced procrastination as one greets an unexpected virtue Inspector Dhar is the doctor s most famous creation, a tough Bombay policeman moulded as the exact opposite of the creator s personality athletic and quick witted, a smooth operator when it comes to the ladies and an acerbic critic of the sins of his peers He is played in the movies by a friend of the doctor, John D., a younger man whose backstory and present tribulations are linked intimately to the main plot.The main plot is structured similarly to one of the doctor scripts a grotesque murder in the opening chapter, a chase after a serial killer targetting prostitutes in the Bombay red lights district, a pair of twins separated at birth, a wily police inspector and his emotionally unstable wife, beggars, dwarves, overbearing butlers, a 20 years old unsolved case, and so on The relation between the plot and the movie scripts is also deliberate, illustrating the tendency of Dr Daruwalla to retreat into his imaginary world in times of stress, where he uses the godlike powers of auhtorship in order to reshape events into a palatable version of reality, one that makes sense and where lessons can be learned, and happy endings are still a possibility Damn other people s messes Dr Daruwalla was muttering aloud He was a surgeon as such, he was an extremely neat and tidy man The sheer sloppiness of human relationships appalled him, especially those relationships to which he felt he d brought a special responsibility and care Brother sister, brother brother, child parent, parent child What was the matter with human beings, that they made such a shambles out of these basic relationships As a character study, the novel succeeds spectacularly in presenting not only the many facets of Dr Daruwalla, but of all the numerous players gravitating around his stocky frame The narrative jumps effortlessly to these other points of view, only to return to the anchor point of Farokh The actual timeline of the events cover less than two weeks of the doctor s visit to Bombay, helping to give the story a sense of unity and simmetry, but the pacing is leisurely with lengthy flashbacks within flashbacks going back decades to Farokh s early childhood fascination with the circus, his studies and courtship in Austria, a first contact with an American film crew in Bombay, his medical career in Toronto, his periodical returns to India, his success as a scriptwriter The wealth of details is often overwhelming Irving is aware of the fact, and turns it into a self referencing joke The missionary wasn t a minimalist he favored description , but my patience was rewarded when all the trivia turned out to have a role to play in the script after all No one who s still trying to find himself at thirty nine is very reliable exclaims Dr Daruwalla at one point in the story, apparently unaware that he himself is still searching for his identity at the age of 60 His search leads him to religion, to scientific studies, to the already mentioned literary career Most of all his questions relate to his cultural and spiritual heritage In Toronto, Farrokh was an unassimilated Canadian and an Indian who avoided the Indian community In Bombay, the doctor was constantly confronted with how little he knew India and how unlike an Indian he thought himself to be At this level, the books scans as an overlong study of alienation, with Farrokh reiterating a favorite phrase of his father An immigrant remains an immigrant all his life Rejected by extremists in his adopted land, viewed with suspicion in India because of his Western mannerisms and sensibilities, his plight will find resonance in readers like me, who are bilingual and immersed in a foreign culture or two on a daily basis, finding few chances to relate and discuss it with my immediate friends and family The theme of alienation is not limited to Farrokh Daruwalla, it touches every secondary character in one form or another, be they a Jesuit missionary, a redneck girl on the run, a transexual boy girl with long held grudges, an actor with a double life, a butler who feels superior to his patrons, or a dwarf who can no longer perform in the circus In our hearts, there must abide some pity for those people who have always felt themselves to be separate from even their most familiar surroundings, those people who either are foreigners or who suffer a singular point of view that makes them feel as if they re foreigners even in their native lands Dr Daruwalla seeks refuge in familiar places his exclusivist and rigidly traditional club, his religious epiphany, the love for his wife, literature As with his scriptwriting, the results are hilarious, especially the story of his conversion to Catholicism or the discovery of the beneficial effects of purple prose during a second honeymoon Note to self check out James Salter A Sport and a Pastime Other literary references deal with religious identity, mostly in the books of Graham Greene, quoted repeatedly in the text and in the polemic between the doctor and the missionary.I m not an expert on the work of John Irving, beside Cider House Rules, but it appears social issues and a general quality of mercy towards his characters are a constant feature of his novels Intransigence, homosexuality, the exploitation of children, poverty, drug abuse, alcoholism, religious fervor are among the hot button issues touched upon in the text The intensity of emotions and the subtlety of the observations make me recommend the book wholeheartedly, but my own struggles with the text I spent two months on it instead of the usual 7 10 days stop me short of a full endorsement I experienced a lack of urgency, a self indulgent streak for getting lost in minute details and painful moral considerations that illustrate well the personality of Farrokh, but stopped me from reading than a few pages at a time.On another personal note, a comparison to my other sprawling Indian saga I ve read this year The Midnight Children is inevitable Salman Rushdie and John Irving have little in common stylistically and the personalities of the main protagonists could not be divergent one a riotous, volcanic extrovert, subversive and irreverent in language and deed, the other a laidback, introspective, meticulous and detached observer yet I found both accounts true to human nature with their differences important than their similarities in revealing an Indian culture too big and too wild to fit into a rigid framework.I would like to close with some praises for the author s use of metaphor and catchphrases oneliners reiterated like a song refrain, many dealing with the circus world, even if the actual story only visits the circus in a short episode For Farrokh Daruwalla though, the circus comes to represent the whole meaning of life, from the childhood exuberance of miracles possible, to the ever present danger falling into the net and constant struggle for survival, and ultimately to the revelation of the whole grotesque absurdity of reality Since the show must go on, all we can ultimately do is relax and enjoy the ride edit 2016 spelling

  2. says:

    This is the 8th book in my John Irving Challenge I only have five books left As I said in my review of the previous book, A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving was not the best choice for a year long chronological study of an author s growth and decline His books and characters are far too similar I do not suggest recreating this project with this author On with the review.By Goodreads standards, two stars equals okay I wish there was something between okay and I hated it , because that s where I m at with this book I didn t hate the book, but it s also far from okay For the most part, A Son of the Circus is a disjointed, rambling, meandering mess of a novel Part of the problem here is the omniscient narration To have been written by such an accomplished, award winning author, the book is amateur hour Examples of good omniscient narration would be parts of Stephen King s It and all of Frank Herbert s Dune Those two books read naturally, whereas this one reads like a clunky nightmare I had to reread whole sub chapters because I didn t know what had happened to who, and or I d fallen asleep mid sentence Which brings me to the fact that this book is boring as fuck This is compounded by the fact that whole sections of it go absolutely nowhere, with little to no emotional payoff The serial killer plot It fizzles out The circus performers lives go nowhere We re asked to care about people in the final chapter who we never truly know Madhu was important Since when We knew very little about her, other than her being a child prostitute Ganesh He was offscreen forever and then the end comes and you expect me to feel something I felt bad for Vinod in the end, but everyone else was just well, they were just there Not even Martin and John D had satisfying endings Simply put, this didn t feel like a John Irving novel, aside from Martin Mills being the reincarnation of Owen Meany Seriously Same character, less CAPSLOCK That being said, the final subchapter with Daruwalla was terrific It was touching and heartfelt and poignant, and it made me wonder what happened to the last 670 pages It didn t feel like the same book And that gives me a theory I believe so many Irving fans myself included are enad with this book because of the way he ended it You can hate entire chapters, even hundreds of pages at a time, but then you get to the end and he sticks the landing This gives you a false sense that the book, as a whole, was far better than it actually was The problem with my theory is, it s glaringly obvious how terrible the rest of the book is It s just not any fun to read And then I m given a gorgeous closing chapter, and I sit back and say, Man, what the fuck was that Did the same author write the rest of the book Sure as shit doesn t feel like it So, if I m pressed, I give the majority of the book one star Even though there are numerous quote worthy lines, the style and meandering narration kill all enjoyment But I can t give it a one star because of that final subchapter Thus I m giving it two stars Overall, it was just okay Still, I wouldn t recommend it.Finally, where s all the circus shit I was promised There s very little in here Maybe 100 pages of 680 pages have anything remotely circus related How the fuck you gonna title a book A SON OF THE CIRCUS and give a reader so little circus time That s fucked up, man.In summation I tried reading this with two other friends who I ve rarely seen quit books One of them buys Ruth Ware novels even though he s never read a Ruth Ware novel he s liked If that ain t a dedication to finishing something, man, I don t know what is Both of them quit this book before page 400 Mostly because of the reasons I stated in this review I only hung around because of this challenge I m doing Had I picked this up on a whim, I d have tossed it in a fire by page 200 Which would ve been sad, because then I d never have read that final subchapter, and that final subchapter damn near made the entire book worth the read Crazy.Final Judgment Irving s worst novel for now.

  3. says:

    My favorite Irving book I have a love hate relationship with Irving s work Son is a madhouse of a novel, even for Irving The plot s are dizzyingly complicated the characters as bizarre as always, but somehow believable I loved the feeling for India in the book and the humor oh my The scene in the cab made me laugh until I cried, thus waking up my husband, as I was reading in bed If you can tolerate really, really weird situations, don t mind some mild but off the wall sexual references, and just want to read something completely different, this is a book for you.

  4. says:

    I read this book by accident and discovered how rich a a story can be.

  5. says:

    I bought my battered, brown paged copy of A Son of the Circus second hand at Blossoms Book House in Church Street, Bangalore A previous owner had left an old used Bangladesh Biman airways boarding pass inside it I used this souvenir of a journey, completed long ago, as a bookmark By the time I finished this long book, this fragile strip of paper was a mere shadow of its former self The book begins with some pages of Author s Notes These start with the words This novel isn t about India I don t know India I was there once, for less than a month I strongly disagree with this Irving may have only been in India for a short time, but he has certainly managed to write a beautifully detailed account of the parts of the country that feature in this lengthy novel His eye for detail is amazing, as is his ability to fondly and sympathetically characterise the Indians who appear in the story On page 635 of my copy published by Corgi in 1995 , I read I m going to tell you a little story about my mother, said Martin Mills Somehow, Dr Daruwalla knew that the story wouldn t be little The missionary wasn t a minimalist he favoured description In fact, Martin left out no detail This brief extract summarises Irving s writing perfectly, and accounts for the great length of this novel.Page after page, the author keeps on introducing new characters bits of information and frequently goes off at a tangent with seemingly irrelevant sidetracking I found this a little disturbing at first, but soon realised that almost everything that Irving introduces eventually helps to drive the plot later on So, if you feel that you are not sure where the book is heading when you have read about 300 pages, don t despair I will not attempt to summarise the complicated plot, which is at least as complex as, and often even enjoyable, than that of a long Bollywood film The only thing that this novel lacks is the song and dance scenes that make Bollywood movies so much fun to watch Needless to say, Dr Daruwalla, a Parsee physician, who resides most of the year in Toronto with Julia his Austrian wife, is the hero of this epic tale Not only does he cure cripples and perform medical research during his regular visits to Bombay, but he also writes risqu film scripts for Bollywood films His prot g , Inspector Dhar, is the hero of these films Martin Mills, mentioned above, is Dhar s identical twin Trouble begins when Martin, a fanatical Jesuit, arrives in Bombay to take up missionary work But Daruwalla is already facing difficulties on account of his films having upset a large number of people including Rahul, a malevolent transvestite who has recently married Mr Dogar, a fellow member of the Duckworth Club which may be an alias for one of Bombay s leading clubs such as the Willingdon Club If you want to know , then get started on the oddly compelling A Son of The Circus Although it has taken me ages to finish this book and the gold writing on its attractive green cover has worn away during many hours of holding it, this is an exciting book, an adventure, or maybe even a thriller, set in India I recommend it highly I intend reading other books by Irving, but first let me tackle something briefer

  6. says:

    DNF Page 355 Yep, I m giving up after investing so much time into this shaggy dog of a novel I wanted to like it, really Irving is one of my favorite authors and reading his stuff is always an unique experience But this thing is ALL over the place it doesn t know what it wants to be, or why I can t keep up with the ever expanding cast of characters nor can I find a reason to care about them I don t know where the hell this thing is going, and I m only halfway done I just cannot keep going.Still, Irving s prose is impeccable in places and I did like a couple of the characters hence my 2 stars Maybe I will finish this one day I buddy read this with my friend Edward We will be tackling A Widow for a Year next.

  7. says:

    I ve always been a John Irving fan, but this one took me by surprise It has a very slow start I found myself struggling to get into it, thinking, Why on earth would I care about an Indian circus and an Orthopedist s quest for dwarf blood And yeah it s exactly as weird as it sounds, at least at first I almost gave it up Suddenly, though, after I pushed through the first two chapters, the dozens of characters started to gain their own identities, and all of a sudden, bang , I was in an Irving novel This book, surprisingly at least to me , had the almost certainly unintended and definitely unanticipated effect of making me want to learn about India Which is weird, since, as the book makes clear time and time again, it s not really about India It s part detective mystery, part rumination on global racial relations, part unapologetic schmaltz, funny as hell and surprisingly heartbreaking it has a sneaky habit, like than one of Irving s books, of catching you off guard You d think I d be ready for him by now, but it seems like I never am This novel is a lot like A Prayer for Owen Meany in that its last chapters, wherein everything starts getting wrapped up, have a sense of mourning about them, at least in a general time marches on kind of sense that s sort of hard to pin down I really love this book It s kind of a slog at 682 pages, but I think I read it every single night for two weeks Highly, highly recommended.

  8. says:

    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 Good reads account The first message popped was from Joey s.____________________________To GRFrom JoeyHi, 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 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 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 Further, 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 clich 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 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

  9. says:

    My favorite John Irving I m having a bit of hard time to single out what makes this one a notch above the rest and above a huge number of others , but I m certain that the intriguing setting of India and this time perfect blend of joy of telling a story and strange but likeable characters are keys to the whole.

  10. says:

    2.5 stars My least favorite John Irving book and the only one I can say that I did not especially like, not that it isn t written with his usual level of skill and attention to detail But I found the plot and the characters far less addictive than that of the typical John Irving book I probably would have rated this a little higher if it was written by someone else but I have the highest of expectations for Irving novels He set a standard for himself with masterpieces such as The World According to Garp to name just one that I suppose is impossible to write up to every time out.

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