Picks and Pans Review: A Son of the Circus

updated 11/14/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/14/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

by John Irving

Irving's latest creation is Farrokh Daruwalla, an Indian-born orthopedic surgeon living in Toronto who writes grade-B movies. As a hobby, Daruwalla collects blood from circus dwarfs to try to find the genetic basis for dwarfism, but his real passion—and only haven—is the circus.

Unfortunately this hefty (633 pages) novel is like a three-ring circus run amok. Unlike the author, Daruwalla is an unimaginative writer. His movie plots come from real life because "he couldn't even think of a story as good as the daily routine of the circus."

Still, there's always some arresting bit of action under the big tent of Irving's novel. This time, however, the ringmaster lacks control. (Random House, $25)

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