Winston Groom is a renowned American author. Born in 1943 in Washington, D.C, he received his education from the University of Alabama. He served in the U.S. Army, toured Vietnam, and rose to the ranks of a captain before switching to literature. He started as a reporter and later worked as a columnist in Washington Star, Washington D.C. for about nine years before becoming a full-time novelist. He was awarded the best fiction award by the Southern Library Association in 1980. However, it was his 1980-novel, Forrest Gump, that changed his life forever. In fact, the re-release of the book sold more than 1.7 million copies, as compared to 40,000 books on the initial release. The movie adaptation grossed over $657 million worldwide, and garnered six Academy Awards.


I may not be a smart man, but I know what love is.

There is a joyous madcap feeling to the first half of this unusual novel. That is before absurdity gathers momentum and begins to threaten to take over the very plot. Groom’s picaresque tale has been narrated in first person, by Gump himself. Gump 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. In fact, he is no ordinary idiot. He is rather an idiot mathematical savant, who is capable of outperforming NASA’s on-board computers. And that is why Gump eventually ends up on a space mission with an ape and the first female astronaut ever. This mission ends in the forests of New Guinea, where Gump runs into 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.

An excerpt from Forrest Gump, by Winston Groom

Forrest Gump can proudly claim to be one of the few contemporary novels to have their own philosophy. The novel presents multiple conflicts. One such clash is the society always doubting Forrest, always putting him down, and his ability to succeed. However, the major conflict that stands out is the love Forrest and Jenny have for each other since they were young. In fact, they had always loved each other, but it took Jenny a while to realize it because she sporadically leaves Forrest and gets involved with drugs and other bad influences. Even so, Forrest makes repeated attempts to look for Jenny and bring her back. But Jenny’s pent-up grief and pain from her traumatic childhood experiences force her to keep pushing him away.

I may be a idiot, but most of the time, anyway, I tried to do the right thing, an dreams is just dreams, ain’t they? So whatever else has happened, I am figgerin this: I can always look back an say, at least I ain’t led no hum-drum life.

The book is a bit too hard to read and comprehend, which is entirely due to the way Groom has written it. He has written out the words the way you would pronounce them, not to mention the fact that there are a lot of grammar mistakes. When reading the book, you really need to concentrate when trying to figure out some words or sentences. That said, you get more and more used to it with every page. It must be pointed out that this actually gives the novel more character, because the author has intentionally written it like an idiot would – like Forrest would have written it.

Since the book is inextricably linked to its screen adaptation, the comparison of the two is inevitable. While the movie is soft, sweet and inspiring, the book is much darker. It is hard to disagree that the book and the movie are two entirely separate things, only connected loosely by their title and the basic plot. The only criticism that the book draws is from people who first see the movie, and then get down to reading it for a pick-me-up experience with the books-are-always-better-than-movies mindset.

Ameya Rating:

Forrest Gump rightly merits 3.8 stars out of 5. This is down to its in-depth story about love and the struggles some people go through in their daily lives. It is absolutely recommended to anyone who likes dramatic stories interspersed with tidbits of humor.

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