❮PDF❯ ✯ A Prayer for Owen Meany ⚣ Author John Irving – Golanvideoagency.info
I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice Not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother s death, but because he is the reason I believe in GodI ve opted for the 3 star approach, but you shouldn t give it much weight where this book is concerned Some people are really hung up on ratings does it really only deserve 1 star you seemed to like it, why not 5 starswhen in truth, this book is so complex, smart, multilayered and slow as fuck that it s impossible to rate.A Prayer for Owen Meany is a strange and interesting book about faith and doubt, with Owen himself representing an embodiment of the relationship between the natural and supernatural everything from his physical description to the events of his life seem halfway between this world and the next.This is my first Irving book I don t know if that s a mistake or not I probably will check out his other work but I ll definitely save it for a time when I m ready for a slow plot In A Prayer for Owen Meany, the narrator is John Wheelwright but he fades into the background, offering a perspective that at times feels like third person John details the lives and habits of the characters surrounding him most notably, of course, Owen Meany making it a book about them and not himself In fact, it seems like the author deliberately kept the novel s focus off of its narrator who is perhaps a stand in for himself.As I said, the story moves slowly and sometimes has a rambling quality, going on and on in exhaustive detail, exploring every aspect of a scene so that we get a lot of character and thematic depth and also, it must be said, a bit of a headache But it s hard to deny that Irving has a way with words and storytelling, working up to an important moment gradually and effectively, even if with a painful slowness.The story spans many years and sometimes jumps a lot of time within a single page, before coming back again As with many non linear narratives, it offers a different and fascinating approach, while not being without confusion It runs alongside many important events in American history Kennedy s assassination, for example , which allows John to express his disdain for the Reagan administration, as well as his general anger toward America.I m not exaggerating when I say it s strange John s account of his and Owen s childhood is odd to begin with, but the novel becomes increasingly nuts towards the end I can t say I fully enjoyed it, but I thought the themes were interesting and incorporated well John s running criticisms of America and American life manifest in ways big and small the big being assassinations and the Vietnam War, the small being such as his mother s death by a baseball, an important American symbol.It s not the kind of book you read for enjoyment or I personally don t think so, but then I never fully got that guy in college who refused to go to any social events because he wanted to read Marcel Proust , but it is the kind you save for when you want a clever, thoughtful read with many layers and themes to uncover I am glad I finally read it.Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube Store Eleven Year Old Owen Meany, Playing In A Little League Baseball Game In Gravesend, New Hampshire, Hits A Foul Ball And Kills His Best Friend S Mother Owen Doesn T Believe In Accidents He Believes He Is God S Instrument What Happens To Owen After That Foul Is Both Extraordinary And Terrifying At Moments A Comic, Self Deluded Victim, But In The End The Principal, Tragic Actor In A Divine Plan, Owen Meany Is The Most Heartbreaking Hero John Irving Has Yet Created Back Cover A long time ago, I came across a story that my grandmother recommended I wasn t sure what to expect, but I definitely hadn t expected to read what would become my favorite book The story begins as many do, giving background on the area that will provide the setting for our tale, a history as reference, but quickly catches up with the main characters and the supporting cast And we quickly learn of Johnny and Owen Meany, two friends who forge an eternal bond despite their obvious mismatches physical, social, cultural and religious differences And a tragic consequence of a baseball game.GOD HAS TAKEN YOUR MOTHER MY HANDS WERE THE INSTRUMENT GOD HAS TAKEN MY HANDS I AM GOD S INSTRUMENT.Big words for an eleven year old who can almost sit in his friend s lap But Owen is so self assured that whether John believes him or not, he knows that there is something special about Owen They all know that there is something different, but no one but Johnny knows how different or special Owen really is.Through their years together, Owen grows closer to Johnny than a simple friend He becomes a brother, an aide in the search for Johnny s unnamed father, an influence that will guide Johnny s throughout his life From helping to search for the identity of Johnny s father to keeping him out of the Vietnam war, Owen has written the script for Johnny s life although Johnny never realizes it until the end of the story only then does he know that Owen knew the script for his own life as well, but never revealed it.Each action in his short life was a test to help him fulfill the one part of his destiny that he couldn t see the final act Johnny faithfully helps Owen in these tasks, things that he can t possibly know the reasons for But to Owen, even Johnny s mother s death had a purpose Everything had a purpose to Owen Even if he was the only one to seem to know why things happened the way they did.He had sunk the shot in under four seconds YOU SEE WHAT A LITTLE FAITH CAN DO said Owen Meany The brain damaged janitor was applauding SET THE CLOCK TO THREE SECONDS Owen told him Jesus Christ I said IF WE CAN DO IT IN UNDER FOUR SECONDS, WE CAN DO IT IN UNDER THREE, he said IT JUST TAKES A LITTLE MORE FAITH It takes practice, I told him irritably FAITH TAKES PRACTICE, said Owen MeanyIrving uses Owen Meany to analyze faith, not only as in a single religion sense, spirituality as a whole Despite everything that he endures, Owen Meany never loses his faith, his knowledge that he is an INSTRUMENT OF GOD, as he reminds Johnny on many occasions It is this faith, through the threat of expulsion, through the lean hard teen years, and into his enlistment into the army, that keeps Owen going, knowing that he has a mission that he has to fulfill, and not much time to do it Along the way, he changes Johnny, filling him with confidence and self reliance and even religion, infusing all of those characteristics that Owen has an abundance of and is loathe to leave behind.Irving s narrative is uniquely captivating, as is the way that he chooses to depict characters, to breath life into them Although Owen and Johnny are by far the main characters, they live among a expansive cast, who all have their own place in this tapestry Owen touches everyone in some small way, leading up to his grand fulfillment A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of my favorite books, and many other s that I have lent it to have found a fondness for the story as well Owen grabs you the way he grabs the other characters in the novel There is something so strong, so compelling about him that you have to find out what is going to happen NOW I KNOW WHY YOU HAD TO BE HERE, Owen said to me DO YOU SEE WHY he asked me Yes, I said REMEMBER ALL OF OUR PRACTICING he asked me I remember, I said.And you will remember it, too. Being in a melancholy mood, I was trying to think of a book that made me laugh tears And the first one that came to mind was Owen Meany I couldn t stop laughing, except for when I cried buckets Rarely do I read books that shake my emotional equilibrium in the same entertaining way Owen Meany in all his absurdities will stay with me forever, just like the other characters, which I learned to love despite or because of their highly constructed lives, all serving the big purpose in the end Some say this is a novel proving the inner truth of faith I say this is a novel that shows a reader the literary basis of any myth The creator of stories moves his characters to the grand finale with a purpose, and the reader knows it and cries and laughs anyway.In my adolescence, I went through a John Irving phase, reading most of his tragicomedy novels in one go, loving his sad humour, his strange plots, his social message and his unique characterisation Of all his novels, this one touched me most, and it is the one I have kept in my heart over 20 years I can still see that baseball flying in slow motion And I can still feel that rage against the author How dare you put me through this emotional collapse, between laughter and tears I can still hear the voice of Owen, and feel his incredible determination The airport scene still breaks my heart, the sheer beauty of the practised sacrifice is just l art pour l art at its best.When the narrator sums up his doom, I feel with him I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice Not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God I am a Christian because of Owen Meany Owen Meany didn t make me a Christian, quite the contrary, but he certainly made me a believer in the power of fiction I am also doomed to remember his voice. I ve been on a huge John Irving kick recently, and man, am I glad I didn t start with this book because I might have aborted the whole thing before I had a chance to read some of his better works.This one just didn t do it for me Whereas I left other Irving novels feeling recharged and alive, I left this one pissed off and ready to drink cheap tequila until I blacked out and woke up in a new world where there are no books or stories or any sort of entertainment derived from the written word First of all, I think Irving has a habit of using his novel s narrators as a stand in for himself, which is fine, since he seems like and incredibly interesting dude, but here I felt like he was just going through the motions Oh, ok, here s my main character, and he s different than me, uh, because we have different names and umdifferent parentsanyway, yeah, that s how we re different ok story time now it was a thin disguise at best and didn t work for me at all My second problem was the structure The book takes place over the span of about 30 years, and sometimes events from all thirty were addressed in a single page Which is fine, if it works, but I felt like he was trying to go for an omni present narrative that ended up being muddled.I also think the book might work better for people who are a little older than myself A large part of the story deals with the Vietnam war and it s relation to the Iran Contra scandal While these passages were in no way lacking it did seem like they were aimed for people who were alive during that time, and could share in Irving s obvious outrage Side note I found myself finding a bazillion yes, a bazillion similarities between the national atmosphere in 68, and now Oh, and while I love Irving s knack for the unusual, here it seemed like every other page he was trying to force a classic situation, wherein unusual characters meet in an unusual situation that illuminates their nature in the most unusual of ways It got so bad that at times I felt like I was reading a sitcom There were a few bright spots I was genuinely moved by Owen s character, and I thought he served as a wonderful example of how Christ could have been at once holy, and flawed Gah The thing is, Irving is a new love in my life, and like any new love, I wanted it to be perfect But he isn t and that s fine because who wants perfection anyway but goddamn I wanted to love this one.Um, yes Ok, well, I m giving it two stars but two stars for Irving is four for most other authors. This is the book that made me want to be a writer I read it in high school, thanks to my favorite English teacher, Mrs B, who had written down the title on a Post It note and said, You need to read this I immediately went and found a copy and had it finished it by the end of the week There is no way I can write a review that is worthy of this novel, but I shall try It is the story of two boys in New Hampshire in the 1950s the narrator is Johnny Wheelwright, whose family is wealthy and his friend, Owen Meany How to describe Owen He was small and light, and he had a loud, high pitched voice He was smart and a loyal friend Owen s parents were a bit odd, and his family was poor enough that the Wheelwrights often helped Owen with tuition and clothing.The first chapter brings a tragedy Johnny and Owen are playing baseball Owen, who doesn t usually get to bat because he was so small, was told by the coach to go ahead and swing Owen hits a foul ball that strikes Johnny s mother and kills her Johnny is devastated and has trouble forgiving Owen, but they eventually make peace, thanks to a stuffed armadillo toy Thus explaining the armadillo pictured on some editions The rest of the chapters cover the boys as they grow up and go to prep school Owen has a gift for writing and pens some inflammatory columns in the school newspaper There is also a hilarious prank that Owen pulls on a teacher he doesn t like, which involves a car, some athletes and a stage.One of my favorite sections of the book describes a church Christmas pageant that goes horribly awry Owen, who can be a bit bossy, takes over the pageant and assigns himself the role of Baby Jesus, even though in previous years it was just a doll It s a laugh out loud disaster, and almost every year at Christmastime I ll pull out this book and reread the chapter.When the boys turn 18, the Vietnam War is escalating and Owen signs up for the Reserve Officers Training Corps, which will pay for his college tuition while he serves Owen even comes up with a plan to spare Johnny from having to go to Vietnam Owen always has a plan, you see.The plot slowly builds and builds, and I would describe it as a crescendo There is a purpose to everything in the story, and by the end of the book, we understand why things had to be exactly what they were.If you are a first time reader of this novel, I need to warn you that there is a difficult passage at the beginning Johnny, who is now an adult and has left the United States and moved to Canada, discusses his feelings about religion I think this is the point where some readers get frustrated and abandon the book, but I urge you, I implore you, I beg you do not give up There is a reason for it If you can power through the discussion of churches, you will break through to a wonderful story.Speaking of religion, I would be remiss not to mention the comparison to Jesus that Irving made Whenever Owen speaks, his dialogue is in ALL CAPS Bible readers will note that Jesus words were printed in an all red font in many editions There are other similarities to Christ, but the less said on this, the better.I have reread this book many times since I first read it in 1990, and each time, it moves me again Some novels are easy to explain this one is not It s a marvelous mix of comedy and drama and bildungsroman and the meaning of our lives, and I am grateful to have it in my life I am not a religious person, but I became so attached to the character of Owen that thinking about him can make me a bit misty eyed He is complex and fleshed out in a way that few fictional characters are Note This book meant so much to me that I was horrified to hear that Hollywood made it into a movie There is no way this book could be captured on film Luckily someone had the good sense to change the title probably a demand of Mr Irving but I have no intention of ever seeing it Some of you may know that I have a hobby of comparing movies adaptations with the source material, but this book is the exception I want to remember it in its pure form Owen would want it that way. Solid four stars This is book seven in my John Irving Challenge Let it be known that I m an idiot Irving s books shouldn t be read this close together He takes upwards of four years to write these fucking things, and reading them back to back only highlights the little repetitive details that an author will forget about in four plus years I do not suggest being an idiot like me Take your time with this author s back catalog I d say, they would be best read a year apart from each other Now we digress for a while This is going to be a lengthy diatribe followed by a review that will upset some people You ve been warned.If you re only here for my thoughts on this book, skip ahead to paragraph four, the following paragraph being paragraph 1 Thanks.I love the Goodreads community There are authors who stay away from what they call the Shark Tank of the Reading Community, where dastardly, trollish reviewers circle, waiting for a badly behaved author to cut themselves, inciting a feeding frenzy There are authors who literally believe Goodreads members have nothing better to do than to sit around waiting for authors to show the first sign of weakness Then there are authors who use this site for marketing and what people in the restaurant business call table touching They hone their craft based on input garnered from reviews, and come to be active members who are here to help you with whatever questions you d having regarding their latest book, or to host a giveaway, or maybe sometimes they also read and rate books, but never do they review because they don t want to cause waves Then you have authors like me I will always be a reader first A reader who has his own opinions, his own likes and dislikes, his own views of the world I don t write reviews to sell books I don t write reviews to gain fans In fact, I feel that sometimes my honest opinions damage me in the public eye than they ll ever help me right, MommaCat But, again, I write these for myself, or to give warnings to readers who enjoy or dislike the sames things as I You will only ever receive my genuine feelings about a book I don t participate in circle jerk review swapping, I don t carpet bomb rivals or request that my fans do so, and I don t put on a happy face when someone pisses in my review corner in order to save face and keep acquaintances happy I m not that kinda dude Don t like my opinions on books but like the stuff I write Fine Don t read my reviews Better yet, don t follow me Pretend I don t exist here on Goodreads, or social media in general Wouldn t bother me a bit I m not here for a popularity contest I m not on Goodreads for any reason other than discussing books with friends If you don t like when I don t fangirl over your favorite books, that s none of my concern If that twists your underwear in a knot and gives you a hemorrhoid, oh well Because I m not some dancing monkey here solely for your entertainment I m a human being with his own thoughts and tastes, and guess what that means It means that, sometimes, ladies and gentlemen of the internet, we are going to disagree But, if you re only here to tell me how wrong I am about your favorite book, or that I should shut up and write books instead of reviewing them, I will kindly ask you right now to stay the fuck off my grass.I know I m the enemy of some of you simply because I am an author I get that, and I try to keep my distance from you For the most part, you keep your distance from me, too, and I appreciate it ,and this site remains a pleasant place for both of us Simply put, I know where I m not wanted and I stay away, lest I welcome your hellfire But, again, FOR THE MOST PART, this website fucking rocks, as do the users who populate it It s full of my favorite type of person in all the world Readers Because I m a reader myself, a lifelong lover of books, and all I want to do is discuss books and share my favorite books and rage over the ones that piss me off If I shit on your favorite books, it s because I didn t like them, not because I think I m better than anyone else I get that I m a scrub, fighting his way to the top, and that some authors have been successful than me, and for good reason You re watching me learn You have front row tickets to my literary education But the simple fact of the matter is, sometimes, I m not going to like what you consider to be amazing works of literature And if you take my reviews personally, well, I just gotta say, the fucking world doesn t revolve around you It doesn t revolve around me either The difference between me and you is that I realize that opinions are subjective, and that your negative review of a book I like is not a personal attack on me, just like my negative review of a book you love is not a personal attack on you.But someone recently took it personally, which is why you re reading this stupid fucking diatribe I was concerned that, by not giving A Prayer for Owen Meany a perfect score that I might summon down the wrath of some of you Not all of you Some of you Maybe one or two of you You know who you are I shouldn t have to say this It should be simple common sense that a stranger s opinion is not a slight on the temple of You It s really that simple I like a lot of you whose taste in books boggle my mind I hate stuff like erotica or romance or YA, but loads of my friends on here love that shit You don t see me in their comments section raging out over their tastes So what if I don t like the books you read Life goes on And I think that s my point here LIFE GOES ON Stop taking everything so fucking personally They are books, for fuck s sake They re meant to be enjoyed They re meant to be escapes Stop getting so bent out of shape and go love whatever and whomever you want to love Go on No one s stopping you Now, let s talk about THIS bookTHE ACTUAL REVIEW STARTS HEREA Prayer for Owen Meany is beautifully written I could quote whole chapters to you, it s that good in places Pay close attention to those two words, though in places That being said, I still think The World According to Garp is the better all around experience I know, I know, many of you will disagree with me I know how many of you love this book It was the single most requested book for me to read and review once I announced I was doing this John Irving Challenge I m attempting to read all of his books in a year and am currently on track to do so , and I feel some of you will be let down by my critique But I m not apologizing for how I feel No one should have to apologize for liking or dislking or just feeling meh about a book Ever While the level of writing in this book far exceeds the level of writing in GARP, GARP was consistently good This book tends to ramble about meaningless, literary stuffs, like the background of character who pass in and out of the story only once And the constant America hate got old Irving s right This country has long been fucked But beating a dead horse does not become him, and that s what the majority of this book is Irving beating a dead horse A horse that died on page 256.I appreciate that Irving was trying to make Owen Meany s voice aggravating, but I found nearly everything about the kid annoying He was too much of a know it all in my book, and because I am not religious in any way, shape, or form, I found a lot of his views sillier than a fucking clown orgy People who talk to their god of choice or claim to hear His voice are no different to me than the wino outside the liquor store discussing quantum physics with the long dead Carl Sagan He s not talking to anyone but himself, and neither are you You re both off your nut Just my opinion But crazy can be fun, and in places, Owen Meany is fun But nowhere is he fun than during the church performance and his part in A Christmas Carol Which brings me to my number one complaint with this book.The novel peaks at the 200 page mark and is never as entertaining as it was in those first 200 pages Once the boys grew up, I lost interest I knew Owen s fate, I knew John s fate, I knew everyone s fate, whether from my own guessing which turned out to be accurate, and I hate when that happens or because the author spoiled his own book No reason I needed to know Owen s fate at page 200 No reason whatsoever Fuck you for telling it, Irving My final word on the book is this There is never a good reason for 100 page chapters Screw any author who does it I m the type of reader who takes breaks only when a chapter has concluded If your chapter is 100 pages long, I MUST read all 100 pages in one sitting If not, I feel like I ve done the book a disservice by stopping where it never intended for me to stop I know I m fucking weird You re not telling me anything I don t already know Thing is, I m not a quick reader I peak at 100 pages a day Not moving all day seriously fucks with my mobility, so I was forced, numerous times, to put the book down and walk around when I didn t want to But that s just my bitch You likely won t notice, nor will you likely care if you do.In summation If you read this entire review, it s very likely you are not happy with me I know some of you will take offense where no offense is meant, but you d do that anyway Some people are professionally bothered Nothing I can do about it But if you feel guilty about something, or feel the need to defend someone, that s on you I m not pointing fingers I m making observations, and these observations are the way I see things And what I found in this book is an author who has fallen in love with his own voice, and rightly so The writing is sexy as fuck But, at some point, you have to learn when to kill your darlings for the sake of the reader s enjoyment And I feel too many darlings were spared in the writing of this book And, in parts, too much was spoiled far too early Take care of each other, and on to the next Irving Final Judgment Pretty but bloated. I m sure you can read a million reviews about this book It seems to be many people s favorite Let me just say that I have read 5 or 6 John Irving books, and this is the only one that is much than a good story About 10 years ago I was assisting a photography class for adults, and one of the particpants, a minister, saw that I was reading this book He said that A prayer for Owen Meany had to say about the nature of God than anything he had ever read We had a fabulous conversation about the book I am basically an atheist, without the anti god feeling that sometimes implies, yet despite our religious differences, we took exactly the same things away from this story It s a powerful narrative. I gave this book three stars because I figure that s the average of five stars and one star Some of the things about this book were great others were really terrible.Irving s strong point is definitely his ability to draw interesting characters in vivid sometimes painful detail Owen, of course, is the central and most interesting character He s a little runt of a boy with a bizarre voice, a sarcastic wit, an iron will, and an unwavering faith in God and in the fact that he is an instrument of God s will In stark contrast to Owen s miraculous life stands Owen s best friend and the narrator of the story, John We get two views of John Most of the book consists of John narrating his childhood and telling the story of Owen Meany The childhood John is self conscious, indecisive, and unmotivated The other view comes from periodic scenes of the middle aged, mundane John who now lives in Toronto and invariably launches into long and bitter rants against the United States and its foreign policy The reason for the rants becomes clear by the end of the book, but that doesn t make them any enjoyable.Many of the supporting characters are also interesting I really liked John s grandmother, Mrs Wheelwright, who is a sort of New England, old money royalty John s sexually charged and extremely rambunctious cousins are usually comical, and Reverend Louis Merrill is sort of tragically lovable.The plot, on the other hand, is incredibly long and wandering Though parts of the narrative are moderately gripping, often the story drags along Irving keeps you reading not with intense plot development, but rather with an intense curiosity to find out what the big deal is about Owen Meany While the ending is good very good, in my opinion Irving has built up your anticipation so much, that by the time it finally happens, it almost doesn t have a prayer pardon the pun of meeting your expectations.While there are several themes in the book, the most important, in my opinion, seems to be that of faith vs doubt Owen s incredibly strong faith is contrasted with John s lack of faith during his childhood, and his passive, church rummage faith during his adult life which, we are told on the first page, John credits to the miracle of Owen Meany The Reverend Louis Merrill also seems to be a important character than his relatively small role would suggest, and his self admitted personal philosophy is the paradoxical doubt as the essence of faith In one of the ironic passages of the book slight spoiler warning , Rev Merrill s doubt is finally dispelled not through the miraculous events surrounding Owen Meany, but through a very mundane and spiteful prank.The problem is that none of the book s myriad of themes and symbols was particularly interesting to me The central theme discussed above seems to hold such potential, but in the end I didn t feel any enlightened than I started Often with books I find myself identifying with one particular character That didn t happen with this book, and I think that impeded my ability to glean insight from the story.Overall, I m glad I read it I d be interested to hear what other s have to say about it. It s a while since I finished this book I felt I just needed a little time to gather my thoughts on it there s a lot to take in For those who have yet to experience this amazing book I ll quickly summarise the set up The two main characters are Johnny Wheelwright through whose voice the tale is told and his best friend Owen Meany Owen is small in stature possible less than five feet tall, fully grown but big in character His voice we ll come back to that dominates the novel Set in a small New Hampshire town in the 1950 s and 1960 s, it opens with the catastrophic news that Owen was the cause of the death of Johnny s mother A mishit baseball shot struck her on the head and she died from the resulting trauma How this individually affects the pair of them and impacts the relationship between them is one element of this novel, but just one element The book can be seen as an anti Vietnam War rant, which I believe it is in part It can also be considered the musings of a non religious man the author professes that he can accurately be described in this way on the teachings of the bible and the way in which these lessons can guide people s thoughts, behaviours and the relationships they forge It s also a rites of passage tale of of two boys growing up amid the confusion of everything that s going on in their lives Aside form his height or lack of it , Owen s voice is his standout feature it s a nasal scream that is captured in the written version by being shown, throughout, in full capitals In the excellent audio version I listened to the reader produced what I can only describe as a compellingly accurate rendition of the author s description It s a haunting, screeching and slightly disturbing voice that absolutely stood out from the crowd And Owen himself stands out in so many ways he s wise, loyal, challenging, outspoken and kind He s the kind of friend I believe we all wish we d had when we were growing up.There s humour here too Some of Owen s verbal tirades had me smiling and sometimes laughing out loud And there s a mystery to be solved concerning the identity of Johnny s father This is a book that entertained, informed and challenged my perceptions in so many ways I can only say that I was so sad to finish this tale that it s taken me a week or so to get over the loss of it Is it the best book I ve come across this year It s than that much, much than that I know we all experience these things in our own way and I ve no doubt some will be frustrated and switched off by elements I found compelling here, but I d urge anyone who fancies a thoughtful and possibly memorable journey through the lives of two people growing up to grab a copy of this book With luck, you ll find it as wonderful a journey as I did.