Read The 158-Pound Marriage by John Irving Online

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Irving looks cunningly beyond the eye-catching gyrations of the mating dance to the morning-after implications. (Washington Post)...

Title : The 158-Pound Marriage
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780671468118
Format Type : Pocket Paperback
Number of Pages : 255 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The 158-Pound Marriage Reviews

  • Edward Lorn
    2019-02-18 08:42

    The 158-Pound Marriage is book three in my John Irving Challenge, in which I am attempting to read all of his novels in a year's time. So far, I'm right on track to finish in December.I understand John Irving's obsession with wrestling. After all, he was a wrestler. I even get why he uses Vienna as a location in his first three books. Because he was a student there for some years before he wrote his first novel. But where does this man's affinity for bears come from? He uses them in figurative and literal fashions. I'd love to pick his brain some day on the subject. John Irving has written the first drafts of all of his novels longhand. Considering how long some of his books are, that is a tremendous feat. He jokes that he saves trees by using both sides of the paper, but you should see how many lines he writes on a single page; about five to ten. At least that was the case in the videos I watched of him working. While this information has nothing to do with today's topic of discussion, The 158-Pound Marriage, it does play into my John Irving project. When I do these challenges, I like to look into the personal life of the author to see how they tick. Being an author myself, I've written plenty of stories longhand, but never an entire novel. My hand throbs just thinking about such a feat. Maybe one day, but that's a huge maybe.If I had to place this novel among the other two novels of Irving's I've read thus far, I'd have to place is right smack dab in the middle. It's much better than Setting Free the Bears but not quite as good as The Water-Method Man. And, as I noted in my review of the former, I again see hints of the style that I enjoyed in the beginning of The World According to Garp, especially the story behind how Utchka (or Utch, if you prefer) got her name. The way that was told reminded me of how Garp's mother came to be pregnant with him. I have to say, that little bit of backstory was likely my favorite part of the book. Not that the rest was downhill from that point, but nothing else topped the opening chapter. What I found utterly riveting was Irving's sneaky character development. I was reading along, wondering where the hell this story was taking me, when all of a sudden I realized I cared for every character on the page. Severin, Edith, Utch, and even the nameless narrator were so well drawn that I found myself heartbroken whenever they were sad and enraged whenever they were mad. These folks were alive in my head, which brings me to the sex.The love scenes in this novel, um... they, er... they caused uncomfortable situations to arise in my pants. I'm not usually aroused while reading sex scenes in books, no matter how lurid or descriptive they might be. I'm a physical, visual kinda dude, is what I'm getting at. I don't mind sex in stories, they just don't turn me on. That was not the case in this book, and I have no idea why. Simply and unbashedly put, boners were had during the reading of this novel. Try and get that image out of your head. You're welcome.Strangely enough, I cannot pinpoint what I disliked about this book. It seemed every third or fourth paragraph was poorly written or wasn't more than an infodump. Irving has some lovely phrasing running around here, but more than half of it was stationary; didn't move me in the least. It's almost as if he had collaborated with a far less talented author. Such an odd experience. But, if you put a gun to my head and asked me what was wrong with the parts I didn't like, you'd just have to shoot me. I pride myself on being able to articulate well the issues I find in books, but this time I'm coming up blank. I just didn't like certain parts. *shrugs*In summation: Overall, my experience with Irving's first three novels has been a pleasant one. They're certainly nowhere near as bad as I was led to believe. Setting Free the Bears being the one exception that I'd not recommend to anyone but completionists. Even Irving admits that, if he had submitted his first novel today, it likely never would've seen publication. And I agree. Yet this one feels more like a second novel than his second novel did. The Water-Method Man feels like a third book. It feels like the novel I'd expect before The World Accordingly to Garp, which is (excitedly) next on my challenge's list. Final Judgment: An arousing, if unbalanced, narrative.

  • Paquita Maria Sanchez
    2019-02-21 08:24

    Caveman get lonely. Caveman get wife. Caveman get bored. Caveman wife-swap. Caveman get jealous. Caveman get lonely. Caveman get wife. Caveman get bored. Caveman wife-swap. Caveman get jealous... (I could go on).

  • Ryan
    2019-03-17 10:47

    relationships really aren't all about the sex. john irving kicked even more ass before he was widely read. read it.

  • Tory
    2019-02-24 11:25

    It's John Irving. One cannot go wrong with John Irving.

  • Jamie Sigal
    2019-02-21 14:32

    A tale about the trials and tribulations of relationships that are fraught with infidelities, an area of expertise in the writing mind of John Irving, I was expecting a whole lot more from this book than I actually got. As with most Irving novels, there's plenty of Vienna for the reader to sink their teeth into (after all the John Irving I've read over the years I feel almost as intimate with Vienna as I am with my own Toronto, and I've never even been there!), and no bears to mar or confuse this story which is a nice change for early Irving, but the tone and characteristics of the antagonists, and they're all antagonists in this one, just sort of fell flat for me and didn't ring with the usual realism that make John Irving's characters so sympathetic. I felt their jealousy for their scorned and spurned lovers, but I didn't care about it or them as much as I should have. It was a very quick and easy read, but probably not one I'll ever read again which is a shocking review for me to make, indeed, since I think John Irving is one of those writers who wasn't meant to be read, but rather he was meant to be re-read, re-visited, and re-loved. I will do none of those things with The 158-Pound Marriage, but rather just go back and re-read Garp the next time I want to read about the sexual politics of couples as he told the same story in that book, and did a much better job with more fulfilling characters. The second wind of the cuckold, indeed...

  • Sharyl
    2019-03-12 13:18

    This is the tale of two couples who decide to share each other, or become a ménage à quatre, in an attempt to even out things in their relationships. It's Edith and Severin in one corner, Utchka and the unnamed, unreliable narrator in the other. The title of the book relates to wrestling, but the fighting image is close enough...anyway, Edith and the narrator have two things in common: they are both trying to be writers and they both met their spouses while traveling in Vienna. Severin and Utchka share a native language and have both lost family and suffered as children during WWII. Severin teaches German, but it's his position as a wrestling coach that is important to him. John Irving has an outstanding talent for character development, and these well-drawn characters play a part in a fascinating drama. Is this all about sex, or something more? What are each of the four getting out of this arrangement? Unsurprisingly, one person will eventually call an end to this entanglement, and even though they all know that this is inevitable, it doesn't prevent the emotional upset that ensues. There is some interesting use of symbolism throughout the book, and Irving's writing style is always very pleasing. I enjoyed it, though it always bothers me a little when the narrator remains nameless. In this case, I'd like to know who to slap, though I admit that by the end, I was pulling for him to make things right again with Utchka, the only one who seems to understand herself and who is understandably very hurt.

  • Natascha
    2019-03-11 08:44

    Das waren sehr mühsame 278 Seiten und ich habe ehrlich gesagt keine Lust noch mehr Zeit auf dieses unheimlich zähe, mir leider nichts sagende, Buch zu verschwenden.

  • Adam
    2019-02-17 07:29

    After reading John Irving's A Son Of The Circus a few months ago and enjoying it (see my review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... ), I decided to read another of his books. I chose The 158-Pound Marriagebecause, unlike many of Irving's other works it was a slim volume ideal for carrying whilst commuting.The narrator is an academic who writes historical novels. His wife, Utch, was born in Austria soon before the Soviet Union marched in at the end of WW2. Severin, also born in Austria, teaches German and coaches wrestling at the same university as the narrator. His wife, Edith, is an aspiring novelist.The two couples decide to become a foursome'. By mutual agreement Severin spends occasional nights sleeping with Utch, whilst Edith and the narrator sleep together. It is an arrangement that appears to be working, but from the beginning of the book I suspected that things turn sour. It is clear from the outset that the narrator is wary of Severin, but the reverse is not true. Severin turns out to be a colourful character full of mystery, some of which is gradually revealed as the tale unfolds. Inevitably, things end badly, but I will not reveal any details.Compared to A Son Of The Circus, The 158-Pound Marriage is colourless and dull. It was only a refusal to give up, that kept me going until the last page. However, I have not been put-off reading John Irving, and plan to tackle some of his better-known novels in the future.

  • Jaslo
    2019-03-17 14:34

    I love John Irving. I really, really love him. I was very curious to read this because it is one of his early novels and I was told it was bad and very mean spirited. I think it is still better than most novels and only mildly mean spirited. Irving demonstrates his usual (brilliant) humor, his fascination with physical deformity and physical fitness, and his delightfully complex characters. That being said, I found the transitions from scene to scene vague and quick. Several times in this novel I don't know where I am in time and place. The narrative voice is first person, weaving in memory after memory-- it gets confusing. Irving often dances around being a mysoginist asshole and in this novel he just IS one...but I forgive him...because I a forgive him his sins. If I were to meet John I would ask him why he is so into wrestling...I must say it baffles me but the more I read his books the more I want to watch a wrestling match.

  • Teresa
    2019-03-07 08:20

    As a fan of John Irvin, I was deeply disappointed in this book. I'm bitter due to past relationships, but not bitter enough to appreciate the resentment and anger that overshadowed the storyline.

  • Rebekah
    2019-02-20 11:34

    I LOVED The Hotel New Hampshire, The World According to Garp, and A Prayer for Owen Meany, and really liked A Widow for One Year. I read this even though it didn't look that good because I have a three-month-old and no time or attention span for reading anything anymore but John Irving is always pretty quick-moving and this book looked short. If I didn't already love John Irving I would have hated this book. The characters were pretty unconvincing and if I had been convinced then I wouldn't have liked them. The story was banal and told with such heavy-handedness as to make the banality even more irritating. But, I do already love John Irving, and this book, written early in his career, had enough of the stuff he would later turn into those genius books that I adore, that I enjoyed it anyway. It was like, even though I didn't like THIS book, it reminded me enough of the ones that I DO like that I was able to enjoy reading it.Two stars for being the first real book I've been able to read since having a baby (and the second since getting pregnant). And in related news, I've been wearing all my pants with the stretchy band to hold them together during and after pregnancy, but I just went to the bathroom and thought, Why not give it a go? and MY PANTS FIT!!! First book and first time closing my pants in a long time. Things are getting back to normal.

  • Klelly
    2019-02-28 15:30

    this is about a foursome, an experiment in switching partners with another couple. taking couple vacations with another couple, dinner and sleepovers house hopping. its difficult for me because i don't like the narrator. he's too goopy. and the children have no presence. but i keep reading. its really intense and relationshippy.it turns out that i hated the ending too. what happened somewhere along the way was that i stopped trusting the narrators (a historical fiction writer!) perceptions of how the other 3 people were feeling, and that put me off from his own feelings. he had it out for the other man but was weaselly in his ways of dealing with that too. the story tumbled along like a heap of sludge ona slightly declining in elevation hill. when it to the end all there was to see was a sludge reservoir. there is a character utch who is portrayed as unrelentingly devotional. i want to know what utch is feeling. the kids came in at the end but in this weird scene when they get hit with shards of glass in a bathtub. it talks about their lives in vienna a lot and i vaguely remember going there once too. right now i remain uninterested about it all.

  • Glendalee
    2019-03-07 07:27

    I can't seem to get sick of Irving. This is one of his shortest novels I've read and that threw me off a bit because I've been reading a lot of Irving lately and all his novels are thick. I picked this book up because I heard that it was similar to the world according to garp (which I loved). This book was about two married couples that enter into a foursome. At first it was a bit unclear how this foursome started and Irving was a bit vague about that but once you get deeper into the story it starts to unfold and each of the four character story is told and you love some and hate the others. Though there are four people in the foursome its told from the perspective of one of the husbands who isn't talking about himself but narrating the life of the other husband and how the three are living in his world. I don't want to give the ending away but this novel was enjoyable to read. One thing thats different from this novel from the other works of Irving I've read is that its not a crazy twist or plot involved, yes its a odd topic but its simple and Irvings prose as always is fantastic and on point.

  • hcelvis
    2019-03-11 13:33

    Partnertausch, um eine Ehekrise zu bewältigen? Was anfangs zu funktionieren scheint, entpuppt sich als fatale Fehleinschätzung: Scheinbar spielt nur einer nicht richtig mit, aber was in den anderen dreien vorgeht, weiß auch keiner genau.John Irving beschreibt dieses Liebesdrama großartig und menschlich, man kann sich in die Figuren hineinversetzen, man lebt und leidet mit. Auch wenn sein schräger Humor und sein Gespür für skurrile Szenen hier nicht ganz so ausgeprägt zu sein scheinen wie beispielsweise bei Hotel New Hampshire oder Garp, ist Eine Mittelgewichtsehe ein typischer Irving, fesselnd und hervorragend zu lesen.

  • Elena
    2019-02-17 13:40

    I think that this is a book that some bored housewife would probably enjoy. For me, there was nothing interesting, it took too much time to built the main characters and the rest of it was just sex. I barely had the energy to finish the book.

  • Thomas Strömquist
    2019-03-12 07:29

    An early Irving, shows great promise and is in no way bad, but compared to his later offerings this feels a bit rushed, impatient and crude. Kind of short also.

  • Andy Plonka
    2019-03-04 07:40

    Irving always has a message to go along with his wry humor and it is quite evident in this one.

  • Daniel
    2019-03-07 14:20

    "The 158-Pound Marriage" is Irving's third novel, but it bears the seal of his trademark conversational prose, his sleek sparsity. The man is a prose pro -- even at this early point in his career -- capable of turning the simplest of descriptions into something fulsomely beautiful, larger than the sum of its parts.However, just because someone knows how to write, that doesn't mean they know what they're writing about. In this book, Irving tries real hard to make a very little look like a whole lot. This reader wasn't fooled.The story is about an unnamed college professor (who is also an unsuccessful writer of historical fictions) and his Viennese wife, Utchka. At a faculty get-together, they meet another couple: a Viennese German professor/wrestling coach named Severin, and his spoiled wife, Edith. Without much fanfare, the couples start up a spouse-swapping relationship that, of course, ends badly.That's it. I'm not kidding.Irving rounds out his dismal and repetitive plot with various anecdotes, some time-flopping devices, and lots of clever (if not over-wrought) character development. Irving is a maverick at populating his books with legitimate and understandable souls; you can feel their pulses in each slim page. The problem here is that every character is despicable. The narrator is myopic and heartless. Severin is petulant and stubborn. Utch is childish and stupid. And Edith is selfish and melodramatic. The real kicker? None of them change. Not at all.The story's "twists," if they can be called that, are employed solely to make the reader feel like the tale is in motion, that it both arose from and is headed toward something interesting. That's not the case. These people and their histories (especially Utch's) make for some occasionally intriguing reading, but by the last third of the novel, when the couples are mostly just bickering and whining, you'll find it as intriguing as, well, as watching two couples bicker and whine.Let's not forget the children. That's right. Both couples have two children which exist in the plot like thumbtacks holding up a map of Swingsville. Not only are the kids barely there, but when they DO show up, their presence is announced sportscaster-style by both Irving and the narrator. My guess is that the next-to-last draft of this novel had no kids at all. Just before publication, I bet Irving decided to try to ratchet the stakes up a notch by tossing in a few tykes, expecting they would give all of the self-indulgent sexuality a tincture of doom. He's trying to slap on some import, make the reader aghast, throw the amoral escapades into the light of carelessness, but such a thing would be unnecessary if the story were well-molded to begin with. As such, the overall effect is cheap and tasteless. (Maybe Irving knew this; the narrator himself frequently mentions how it's too bad he hadn't thought of the children more than he did.)For a story about love and passion, this book is void of either. Never do the characters seem to have any feelings for anyone other than themselves, and even the occasional "erotic" passage is about as sexy as a shattered shower door or stinking wrestling mat. The book takes place at such a remove (not a surprise, since the narrator, like all the characters, has his sights turned mostly on himself) that there's no connection at all, not between the lovers, nor between the spouses, not even with the reader. There's a lot of nice-sounding prose here, but it tells a dull and dismal half-story, one that's not nearly as profound as it is pathetic.

  • Ruth
    2019-02-28 11:18

    255 pages. Donated to charity 2010 May.Professional Reviews"Irving looks cunningly beyond the eye-catching gyrations of the mating dance to the morning-after implications." --The Washington PostThe darker vision and sexual ambiguities of this erotic, ironic tale about a ménage a quatre in a New England university town foreshadow those of The World According to Garp; but this very trim and precise novel is a marked departure from the author's generally robust, boisterous style. Though Mr. Irving's cool eye spares none of his foursome, he writes with genuine compassion for the sexual tests and illusions they perpetrate on each other; but the sexual intrigue between them demonstrates how even the kind can be ungenerous, and even the well-intentioned, destructive."One of the most remarkable things about John Irving's first three novels, viewed from the vantage of The World According to Garp, is that they can be read as one extended fictional enterprise. . . . The 158-Pound Marriage is as lean and concentrated as a mine shaft."--Terrence Des PresFrom the Trade Paperback edition.

  • David
    2019-03-05 13:34

    When I've talked so much about how much I would prefer Irving if he didn't go on and on and on, you'd think I'd really dig this one. It's the smallest Irving I've ever seen. Yet, it somehow feels more bloated that his much larger novels. The plot doesn't really seem to start for quite a few chapters. So much early on is back story. It's necessary, but I wish he'd have woven it in more like in later books. Though shorter, it's so slow to start and never seems to get much of anywhere once it does get started. It is by no means bad, just not as much of the good parts of Irving I've come to expect. Probably predictable given that I'm hitting one of his earlier novels later, but still. This one doesn't quite have the Irving magic moments, which can go a long way to helping me accept the things about his style I don't care for as much. Bottom line, probably one of my least favorite Irvings.

  • Gossymotto
    2019-02-19 12:25

    I really like most of John Irving's books but some of them for me, are just okay. This one is well written as are all of his books, but the story fits in the "just okay" category for my taste anyway. I was expecting the story to go somewhere further than it did and I find it hard to relate to the characters. I kept thinking to myself, "Are these people really that clueless?" And I know there are people like these characters but I found it frustrating to read about them.I think this one is hugely a matter of taste and opinion as to whether the reader will enjoy it or not. It does move along easily and is well written though so take a chance and see if it suits you.

  • Joell
    2019-03-07 10:40

    Irving always packs his stories with quirks and characters that make you squirm. There's always some maiming going on and plenty of oral sex with dire consequences........ There - made you squirm. I've loved him for reasons I can't quite describe - like a guilty pleasure or the train wreck you can't take your eyes off of. True, I absolutely loved A Prayer for Owen Meany - but didn't we all?And I might add this book to the "loved" category. It's a whopper of a moral tale and you get the pleasure of a rollicking Irving read.

  • Megan
    2019-02-16 08:31

    This is a compelling and startling book. Irving does a superb job of feeding you each character’s history in order to understand why this foursome even happens and for me, these character backgrounds were truly the meat of the book. Because you know so much about each member you can realize the tensions and trigger points exposed during their affairs together. The underlying theme is this: scorn, jealousy and rage disguised by carnal desire cannot stay hidden forever.

  • Stacy
    2019-02-17 15:22

    John Irving is my hands-down favorite author. I have read and re-read this one and while I enjoyed the book and Irving's tone that I know and love, it is not nearly as beloved to me as Garp, Cider House, Owen Meany and Hotel New Hampshire. If you love Irving, read it-- you'll like it-- but if you are just trying him out, this is not the one to begin with.

  • Neri.
    2019-02-26 11:37

    3.5. At first it was pretty weird in typical John Irving fashion but then it was pretty slow but enjoyable. J. Irving isn't afraid to tackle issues that most people are afraid to talk about in public and this book is one of those issues - the swap of partners. You can also view this as a satyre on modern relationships and family issues. A more mature reader material.

  • danielle
    2019-03-03 07:20

    as always, john irving creates beautiful characters. each of the four main characters represent a different angle in an approach to life and it is easy to align your loyalties with one of them while still completely understanding the others. severin scares me a little because i think that's who i relate to the most.

  • Vessela
    2019-02-24 14:34

    This is my first Irving and I'm quite impressed. And this is not even considered to be one of his best works. I love the way he introduces the characters and the story. Complex charactrs and human relations, and some beautiful descriptions of love scenes I reread several times. I can't wait to read Owen Meany and Garb.

  • Miri Elm
    2019-03-15 12:24

    The book was alright. As usual, Irving's character descriptions drag on and on, and I failed to see the point of most of the backstories. That being said, it was an engaging read, I liked it, but it could have been half the length and still made the same impact.

  • Rebekah Weatherspoon
    2019-03-02 15:22

    Read this a while ago. It's bizarre thinking of Irving writing sex scenes that take place in the same room where I had freshman gym.

  • Allison Barilone
    2019-03-01 15:42

    Must re-read.