I am still not used to the long period’s of time that come with reading a chapter of this book. It took me hours to get through this chapter. I even stayed up later to finish it and my eyes were aching so badly yet when I got into bed sleep did not come easily. I notice I do not fall asleep easily if I go to bed around or after midnight. Anyway, despite the long time it takes me to read a chapter, there is something oddly satisfying about getting through one of these mammoths. When I finished reading Chapter 2, I felt a sense of accomplishment.
In some regard, this book reminds me of something we would have been assigned to read in school. I’m certain it has made more than one banned book list due to it’s discussion on abortion. But I guess I feel accomplished in a way I never did in school. In school I hated reading the text’s assigned to us. It’s strange to say this as an English major but this is a large reason why I had average grades. But reading this feels as if I am making up for something lost to me. I never did the work or reading in school, something I now regret, but now I’m actually reading a book and thinking about it critically. I’m giving it my entire attention. And I love it! Kind of wish there was a podcast or iTunes U study on this book. Someone make this a thing!
As Irving did in Garp, he seems to have a habit of including grotesque sexual situations in his novels. He uses stark vocabulary to describe Wilbur Larch’s sexual disease and unrelenting imagery in how he handles such a thing. And although I want to turn away, I somehow can’t. There is a rare quality held in these pages that only few books carry. It is honesty. Irving doesn’t shy away from the ugly situations of life. He surely dives into situations that are often known as taboo subjects yet he treats them as ordinary as a pair of socks.
Speaking of Larch, this chapter is entirely dedicated to his backstory and how he becomes involved in performing abortions, also referred to as “The Lord’s Work.” It delves briefly into his childhood and his parents, how he became obsessed with bacteria after his alcoholic father got him a prostitute to express his pride in his son getting into medical school and the prostitute passing on gonorrhea which Larch would come to examine quite frequently in his spare time in school. Yes, I am aware that was probably a run on sentence. Anyway, this is also when Larch’s addiction to ether begins. He takes it to rid himself of the pain he feels from the gonorrhea. Ouch.
But one thing the chapter really focuses in on is abortion and the juxtaposition between the Lord’s Work and the Devil’s Work, the Lord’s Work being delivering babies and the Devil’s Work aborting them. But Larch does not view it that way. He sees abortion as a right to all women and therefore he believes it his duty to provide it to them when the law won’t allow it to be available to all. Thus, he believes abortion to be the Lord’s Work. Hence the title of the chapter.
The chapter briefly delves into Homer’s introduction to the Lord’s Work. He has a bit of a traumatic experience, finding a dead fetus on the floor. The detail is very important I believe, because Irving describes the fetus with such life like qualities to later attribute to Homer’s convictions that the fetus is a human life. I know this information because of the movie. Just another detail I remember. This is a point in the chapter when Dr. Larch decides that teaching Homer would also be the Lord’s Work. I appreciate that Larch does not force it on Homer. He merely teaches him to be of use, and gives him an education.
And so I will end this letter saying that so far I am enjoying this book quite a bit. What are you reading? Whatever it is, I hope you are enjoying it. And enjoy this gif.
Until next time friend. Danielle.