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A Prayer for Owen Meany Mass Market Paperback – April 3, 2012
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Owen Meany is a dwarfish boy with a strange voice who accidentally kills his best friend's mom with a baseball and believes--accurately--that he is an instrument of God, to be redeemed by martyrdom. John Irving's novel, which inspired the 1998 Jim Carrey movie Simon Birch, is his most popular book in Britain, and perhaps the oddest Christian mystic novel since Flannery O'Connor's work. Irving fans will find much that is familiar: the New England prep-school-town setting, symbolic amputations of man and beast, the Garp-like unknown father of the narrator (Owen's orphaned best friend), the rough comedy. The scene of doltish the doltish headmaster driving a trashed VW down the school's marble staircase is a marvelous set piece. So are the Christmas pageants Owen stars in. But it's all, as Highlights magazine used to put it, "fun with a purpose." When Owen plays baby Jesus in the pageants, and glimpses a tombstone with his death date while enacting A Christmas Carol, the slapstick doesn't cancel the fact that he was born to be martyred. The book's countless subplots add up to a moral argument, specifically an indictment of American foreign policy--from Vietnam to the Contras.
The book's mystic religiosity is steeped in Robertson Davies's Deptford trilogy, and the fatal baseball relates to the fatefully misdirected snowball in the first Deptford novel, Fifth Business. Tiny, symbolic Owen echoes the hero of Irving's teacher Günter Grass's The Tin Drum--the two characters share the same initials. A rollicking entertainment, Owen Meany is also a meditation on literature, history, and God. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Joe Barrett captures the humor and sorrow of Irving's classic novel about faith, friendship and fate. We follow the adventures of diminutive Owen Meany and his best friend Johnny Wheelwright as they grapple with life, death and devotion and come of age in the small town of Gravesend, N.H. Barrett deftly portrays a host of strange and wonderful characters as Owen commandeers the local Christmas pageant, battles with an autocratic headmaster and fulfills what he believes to be his destiny. Faced with the unenviable task of capturing the singular voice of the titular character (in the novel, Owen's dialogue is capitalized to represent his strident, squeaking speech), Barrett produces a workmanlike rendition of Owen that, while not perfect, grows on listeners as the story unfolds. True to the spirit of the text, Barrett's masterful rendition is a delight. A Morrow hardcover. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
John Irving is one of my all-time favorite authors. I love his descriptions and his in-depth involvement in his characters. The time he invests in his stories, not just a period but a life, carries his readers along an entirety of experiences. Yet this story was difficult to get into. It took a long time to see the thread that brought it all together. After a while, I was involved enough to feel a commitment, to be curious. Then it all came together. Like John Wheelwright, I needed time to see the big picture, to become a believer.
It's long and requires some patience.
There is quite a bit of political meandering, but I lived through the Viet Nam thing with my friends (and my husband) deciding to go or trying to get a deferment..
The character of Owen Meany was unlike any character I've ever met before. and the relationship between him and the narrator was wonderful.
For me to call a book unforgettable is saying a lot since I read or listen to audio books on a daily basis. A lot of books run through your mind and are gone. This is not one of them... at least not for me.
But then I have always been a fan of John Irving and I think this is one of his best.
silliness here. Just truth.
Secondly, pay close attention to everything that happens. This is by no means a quick read at 600 some pages, but while wordy, there didn't seem to be one extra that needed edited out. Facts are presented, events happen out of order or seem so mundane as to be ignored, but John Irving has remembered every detail and slowly everything is pieced together.
Thirdly, A Prayer For Owen Meany made me flat out bawl. What an inspiring character Mr. Irving created in Owen Meany. What a beautiful friendship between him and John. Coincidentally, John (the most beloved of all the disciples?)
I didn't expect to like this book. I ended up loving it.
My one complaint? The ending. It felt abrupt and quite frankly, I wanted it to keep going and going.
I read it on my Kindle and plan to buy a hard copy to reread some of Owen Meany's observations.
K. Kris Loomis is the author of How to Sneak More Yoga Into Your Life and the Modern Shorts for Busy People series.