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A Son of the Circus (Inglese) Copertina flessibile – 15 gen 1994
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The plot is Byzantine and carefully-woven, but ultimately predictable in some ways. The story and its ending are not particular strengths of the novel, but are mainly vehicles for Irving's skillful neo-Dickensian depiction of contemporary India--more specifically, some of its colorfully bizarre social settings and the diverse personalities that animate these unusual environments.
Oh, the characters! I will miss them so! The endlessly fascinating personages who appear, disappear, and reappear throughout this lengthy narrative provide the very heart of Irving's masterpiece. There are so many! Particularly unforgettable are the actor John D., whose alter ego is his forever-sneering on-screen persona, Inspector Dhar; John D.'s garrulous and impulsive Jesuit missionary twin (long-lost, of course!); the crippled elephant boy, with his dreams of skywalking on the circus high wire; the staid and forever disapproving steward at the exclusive Duckworth social club, at which much of the principal action in the novel occurs; the twisted and tortured transsexual, Rahoul; and finally, at the center of this circus there is the essential straight man, Dr. Farruk Daruwalla, a childrens' orthopedic surgeon (and screenwriter) who splits his time between his native India and his adoptive home in Toronto, where he feel "always an immigrant." Complementing these unforgettable characters is a lengthy cast of dwarfs, transsexuals, prostitutes, drug dealers, drunks, drifters, and other assorted misfits and freaks. As always, Irving shows his affinity for the strange and tortured underside of human existence.
At one level, the novel is simply another of Irving's jaundiced romps through the absurd, the socially marginal, and the unspeakable, and the author's typically ironic dry wit can lull the reader into thinking this is all just a lengthy exercise in twisted humor and world-weary cynicism. But there is so much more! In the end, Irving has succeeded in creating a profound, complex, poignant, and moving portrait not only of the rich and glorious chaos that is contemporary India, but of humanity as a whole.
While reading this book, I was constantly aware of the author's genius. His ability to conceive and weave together intricate plots and carefully constructed characters into a cohesive, wildly entertaining story is mind-blowing. Irving's previous books (Owen Meaney, The Cider House Rules, Garp, Hotel New Hampshire, etc.) and the subsequent Widow For One Year are all excellent reads, but all much tamer and far less intricate than the grand spectacle of Son of the Circus. It is truly an amazing feat of fiction - a wonderful book with as many twists, surprises, and glimpses of the bizarre as one could ever hope for. Irving's beautiful writing, outstanding background research, and vivid imagination make for a truly original story that haunted me for months after reading it. Several years after reading it, I still harbor strong memories of Son of the Circus(and I have read dozens of books in the interim).
This is a book to be read carefully - it makes an excellent vacation read, when the proper amount of time and attention can be paid. If some of the other reviewers of Son of the Circus were disappointed with it, I suggest that they return to it and read every word with care - perhaps then they will understand John Irving's gift and what an intelligent and interesting book Son of the Circus is. Don't miss it - books like this don't come along very often!
I highly recommend this to all Irving fans as one of the under-appreciated books that often falls below the radar. I loved getting lost in this fantastic world of intrigue in India, and I was sad to have this beautiful book come to an end.