the pencil reads

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The Water Method Man

Tuesday, February 01, 2005
I finished another book by John Irving this weekend, The Water Method Man. This novel was written in 1972 and was the second book Irving published. It is less ambitious in scope than either The Cider House Rules or The World According to Garp – while the latter novels span between two and four generations, The Water Method Man is about one character’s journey to find himself over a span of 10 years or so.

I don’t really care for the main character Fred “Bogus” Trumper. His personality doesn’t come across strongly, but that is the point of the novel. He barely knows who he is. There are a lot of bits in it that is recognisable in his later novels, like throwing the snails into the water, or a woman having to make a choice between two men, etc. In this novel, Biggie chooses the other guy (Couth); in The Cider House Rules, Candy chooses both.

You can tell it is written by the same author. The themes are the same – growth, change, sex, children, vocation, relationship, etc. – but this novel doesn’t engage life the way The Cider House Rules does. In The Cider House Rules, the physiological parallel is the abortion and birthing process, a procedure that envelopes life and death; in The Water Method Man, it is a crooked urinary tract, paralleling Bogus’ navigation between truth and shades of truth in his path towards self-discovery.