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While it seems that we have been "Gumped" to death with all of the hoopla and hype that has accompanied the Academy AwardR-winning movie version of Forrest Gump, please run out and get this audio recording of Groom's wonderful book in its unabridged state (for a review of the abridged version, see Audio Reviews, LJ 9/1/94). Though somewhat reluctant to listen to this narrative, this reviewer was delighted and surprised by the richness and true hilarity of Forrest's story. Some of the famous scenes in the movie are not in the book. Consider the meeting between Jack Kennedy and Forrest; in the book, Forrest meets with Lyndon Johnson. They compare battle scars and Forrest is delighted when Johnson invites him to watch an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies. "I never miss it, boy," Johnson drawls. Squeaky clean Forrest of Hollywood fame is not the Forrest of Groom's wonderful, imaginative satire. No, Forrest here is all-too-human, with the same selfish desires as the rest of us. Where he verges from the great mass of humanity is that he does not lie. Life seen through his eyes is poignant and hilarious. This program, read by Mark Hammer, is a real treat. Highly recommended for all libraries.‘Roxanna Herrick, Washington Univ. Lib., St. Louis

There is a joyously madcap feeling to the first half of this unusual novel, but then the absurdity gathers its own speed and begins to run dangerously amok. Groom's picaresque tale is told by an idiot, the Gump of the title, and follows his outrageous life from early stardom for Bear Bryant's Crimson Tide, through a tour in Vietnam and across the broad canvas of America during the '70s and '80s. Like most literary idiots, Forrest Gump is a lot smarter than the people he encounters. He is also no ordinary idiot. Instead, he is a mathematical idiot savant, capable of outperforming NASA's on-board computers, which is why Gump ends up on a space mission with an ape and the first woman astronauta mission that ends in the forests of New Guinea where Gump meets a Yale-tutored cannibal. All this takes place after Gump has met Lyndon Johnson and saved Chairman Mao from drowning, which is to say that this is a very broad satire. While there is much on-target humor here, Groom, author of Better Times Than These, has written better books than this. (March 7)

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