Monday, August 09, 2010

A Gift to the Reader: The Cider House Rules

I was led recently to reread THE CIDER HOUSE RULES by John Irving. And while I was once again seduced by Irving’s incredible skill at creating characters I would recognize if they appeared at my backdoor, and drawn almost compulsively into the lives of Doctor Wilbur Larch and his never-adopted orphan Homer Wells, there was something else that struck me this time around. Something aside from how deeply and almost reverently Irving presents these people to us couched in all their little curious quirks and idiosyncrasies. Something in addition to the rational and even-handed way in which he presents the emotionally charged issues that fall on either side of the abortion debate. And that was the oft-repeated theme throughout the novel that one should “be of use”. I found myself thinking that in terms of our place in the world, how simple is this advice, to be of use, and how satisfying. Doubtless, if I wait another ten years to reread this story again, I will find some other jewel worth keeping. Irving’s tales are so layered, not everything worth having can be had at one sitting. Still, it’s days now since I finished reading the book and that advice continues to run through my mind . . . wherever you find yourself, be of use.


Colleen Thompson said...

I've always enjoyed John Irving and I especially loved THE CIDER HOUSE RULES. I discovered it via a movie rental a couple of years ago and immediately ordered the book, which was even better.

It's so thoughtfully written and so movingly heartfelt, readers on either side of the abortion divide should give it a try.

Great first post, Barbara!

Joni Rodgers said...

The mark of a great book. You gain fresh insight every time you return to it.

Lovely to have you on board, Ms B!

Kathryn Paterson said...

Irving and Updike, two of my favorite writers--and I mention Updike because I feel like the layering you're talking about is somewhat similar, although they are very different in approach and tone.

Love The Cider House Rules. Love love love it.

Kathryn Paterson said...

Oh, and great post!


To subscribe to BtO, click "Subcribe to: Posts" at the bottom of the page and then "Subscribe to this feed."

Want to borrow a cup of content? Feel free to share our link or a brief quote with your friends. But please e-mail for permission to reprint or repost our work elsewhere, and always add an attribution and a link back to our site.

We welcome your feedback. Feel free to post comments. PR and outreach from publishers and published authors should be sent to:

Boxing the Octopus: all content copyright 2008 Colleen Thompson and Joni Rodgers all rights reserved.

We welcome payola in the form of pies, cakes, neatly folded laundry and free books!

In accordance with FTC regulations, we're required to inform readers that we receive books from publishers, authors, and PR folk for review. We'd like to receive money via an offshore bank account, but that hasn't happened yet. When my dad was in radio back in the '50s, a local baker used to sneak over in the dead of night and fill the back seat of his car with bread and pastries. We would NOT object to this. Please review our review policy here. And let us know if we should leave the car outside the garage tonight.

Peace, love, and statutory compliance ~