In my opinion, no overview of my novels is better written or more insightful than the Introduction Terrence Des Pres wrote to 3 by Irving (Random House), which published in one volume my first three novels—The 158-Pound Marriage being the third.
In his evaluation of Setting Free the Bears, The Water-Method Man, and The 158-Pound Marriage, Des Pres saw emerging themes, which were afforded fuller orchestration in The World According to Garp. Using Garp as a mirror to reflect recurrent images and subjects established in my first three novels, he makes a good case for the healing, even spiritually renewing qualities of comedy—a kind of laughter-against-pain thesis.
No such thesis written on my fiction has meant as much to me—before or since. And Terrence Des Pres wrote this Introduction to 3 by Irving in 1980. It holds up.