I wouldn't call John Irving old fashioned exactly, but he's never had much use for literary movements or trends. Of contemporary American novelists, he is proud to be heir to the Victorian novelist's long, densely plotted, colorful books. His eight novel "A Son of a Circus" can be described as the greatest Dickens novel that Salman Rushdie never wrote. It is dedicated to Rushdie and set in India. To describe the plot would be pointless, but it does includes a doctor who also writes screenplays, an actor, a serial killer, a golf club, a drug dealer, teenage prostitutes, the circus, and a dildo full of money. It is perhaps his most exuberant, sweeping, and ambitious novel and the Indian setting seems to have freed him up to really let his imagination run wild. It's a long book, but never a boring or taxing one. "Garp" may be his masterpiece, but this may be his boldest and best plotted book.

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