Excellent novel!! The novel is very profound -- touching on religion, politics, friendship, and fate. It took me some time to get through the book (it was long and sometimes tedious) and sometimes Irving's style bothered me - he likes to jump around a lot -- from Owen's and Johnny's childhood to the late 80's and back. The OWEN character is unforgettable with his extraordinary perception and VOICE. The novel takes you on a rollercoaster of emotion from humor to moments of sadness. The Vietnam War and the politics of Reagan are also key to the novel (I wonder what Irving thinks of the current situation in Iraq ?!). Overall, I would highly recommend this book -- it's well worth the time investment to read. I have read a few other Irving novels including "The Cider House Rules" (which was wonderful) and "The Hotel New Hampshire" (which I thought was so-so). I'll be reading more Irving in the future.
This was my first Irving book and at first it seemed a huge undertaking and a bit confusing, but he kept the pace up so the confused parts went by fast and eventually I understood his line of thinking and writing and ended up LOVING this book.
It is part mystery, part good ol' "back in the good old days" story-telling, with some comedy and some [just a little bit over the top] political "down memory lane" sections, thrown in for good measure.
All in all you end up wishing the book wouldn't end and amazed at his writing skills. I wished I'd discovered him [Irving] sooner.
"Owen Meany,the only child of a New Hampshire granite quarrier, believes he is God's instrument: he is. This is John Irving's most comic novel; yet Owen Meany is Mr. Irving's most heartbreaking character."
For once the back cover gets it 100% right...this is one of the five most beautiful books I have ever read...as I got to the end of it I was counting the pages, hoping more would magically appear, and hoping that the inevitable would not happen. They didn't, and it did, but the book is still magnificent. If you need a booster shot for your faith in humanity, this is it!
A superlative book. Set during the Vietnam War era, it transcends that period and establishes John Irving as a major modern writer. If you don't read another book this year, you owe it to yourself to read this one.
In all these years, I had never read this book. It is on the list of "1,001 books you must read..." and it certainly belongs there! It is humorous and tragic. It is a beautiful story and I will go back and read it again, because after the surprising twists and revelations toward the end, you realize there was significance in so many things you miss the first time. Wow! Great book!
I very much enjoyed this book and loved learning about the life and intricacies of Owen Meany. Unfortunately my full enjoyment of the book was sullied by the prejudicial and ridiculous rantings about Ronald Reagan and the Reagan administration; hence I gave it only 3 1/2 stars. Would have been a much better book without that garbage being thrown in.
Owen Meany speaks in CAPITAL LETTERS and so does this book. Though dated to the Reagan/Contra era, the book is still interesting and engaging twenty years later. Like many of John Irving's novels, things always seem a little off-center until the plot is resolved clearly and brilliantly. Both Owen, and his narrator, John Wheelwright, are complex, three-dimensional characters with powerful messages to deliver. Well worth reading.
What happens when your best friend thinks that he is an instrument of God adn speaks in all capital letters? Read this very well written book to find out. It is a truly a must read and keeps you wondering what will happen to all the people in the book. This is set mainly in the 1960's during the Vietnam War, and then later during the Iran-Contra Reagan era. The novel is still relative today depsite it's setting.
While this book is not an easy one to get through - I found myself only able to absorb about a chapter a night - it is well worth your time. John Irving always has believable (if odd) characters with flaws, quirks, and traits that we find all too common in ourselves. This is one of those books that you put down at the end, and then find yourself thinking about a lot after you've finished it. I don't know that I'd call it an "enjoyable" book - to me, an enjoyable book is one you finish all too quickly and want to reread again and again. But you will be haunted (in a good introspective sort of way) by this book.
So descriptive, so wonderfully written that there were times I literally laughed out loud, and even cried with the characters in the story!! I had a hard time even putting the book down!! This is a MUST read!! :)
A Prayer for Ownen Meany is one of Irving's finest! He builds the narrative in such a way that you can't help but be absorbed by the plot even though so much remains a mystery until the conclusion. Everything makes perfect sense in the end like the intricate folds of origami. This book has a wholesomness to it that most of Irvings do not---- it will appeal to readers who do not like the author's other novels. It's one of those books you miss once finished.
Wow what a great book. I remember seeing Simon Birch which is a movie that was ever so slightly based on this book. The book is much better. Owen is a very small person with a squeaky child like voice that never matures. He thinks he was sent from god to perform a miracle. Some of this based on the fact he was told by his parents that his was a virgin birth. His mom was supposedly a virgin when he was conceived. Owen is a very likable and distinct character but I also grew to like the narrator John. Religion, War, Politics play a vivid role in the narration of this story. I think Irving is a master in literature and I am happy I have been introduced to this talent. It is almost like irving has written his autobiography thru the writings of his life. This one especially. The missing father, New Hampshire, boarding school, Canada are shared by him, his characters and the various works. This is a long book. Even as a paperback and it took some time for me to get engaged. But once I did, I was pulled in and enjoyed the ride. This is literary genius at its best.
In this story, the bext and worst of John Irving's writing style is on display. His best: the ability to craft a story that melds personal biography, politics and faith. His worst: the tendency to meander and run on at various points in the story. Having not read any other works of John Irving, I cannot say whether the worst of this book is characteristic of the author's writing style or a representation of the workings of the story narrator's mind.
On the whole, "A Prayer For Owen Meany was an enjoyable and thought-provoking experience.
I absolutely loved this book. It was very long and took me a long time to read, but it was exceptional. I can see that John Irving is the kind of author you either love or hate....I can't wait to read my next Irving novel.
I like John Irving alot, but I thought this book just did not live up to his typical good quality of storytelling (Cider House Rules and World According to Garp for example). I thought the premise was kind of dumb and the story just didn't grab me.
Owen Meany, the only child of a New Hampshire granite quarrier, beleives he is God's instrument;he is. This is John Irving's most comical novel, yet Owen Meany is Mr. Irving's most heartbreaking character.
John Irving at his best. The book had me laughing and crying and though it started slow, half way through I could not put it down. I fell in love with Owen and I understand how everyone that knew him could.
Excellent book! A unbelievably incredible story with characters that you don't want to leave.
It's shocking, bittersweet, moving, and sweet. You know where this story is going but you are completely unprepared for the way it unfolds. When you get to that last chapter - have tissues ready - you will feel every moment of this story.
A new favorite!
I love being in the middle of these characters stories and I don't want to leave them. I may just have to read it for a second time as soon as I do finish it. Yes, its THAT good!
a marvelous experience! Full of wisdom, wit, humor, revelations of the human spirit. Irving loves words and sounds and strange situation. In this book he certainly is the top of his form. It is an allegory or parable of a strong religious experience.
Definately four star. I really enjoyed this book. I cared a lot about the characters and wanted to know what would happen to them, right to the end. It has a lot of humorous parts, but it tugs at your hear too. I recommend it.
Just finished this book tonight! I had a hard time getting into this book as it took me forever to read. The print was tiny and the book was long. But once I got used to the story, I really began to enjoy it. By time I finished, I was really loving it and now it is over, I know I will be thinking of Owen Meany for a long time! I can see why it was picked for The Great American Read list and 1001 Books To Read Before You Die list - it truly is a great book! Read it soon!
This is my absolute favorite book in the entire world. I cried the last 50 pages. Owen Meany knows that he is destined for greatness--just like Jesus Christ. In fact, he thinks that he is the modern Jesus Christ who will someday be crucified for his beliefs. Owen Meany inspires the narrator to become a great man himself. This book is beautiful and courageous and moving. I can't recommend this enough. John Irving is an amazing author. I also love The Cider House Rules.
I really enjoyed reading John's story about growing up with Owen Meany, but every time he transitioned from the past to the present, from adventures in Gravesend to his diary in Toronto, I got lost. Well, not lost - it is more like, I got interrupted. Distracted. The story's spell was snapped.
But wow. What a story. What an engrossing, confusing character Owen Meany is. His devotion to the Wheelwright family was touching, but also sad; it seemed he abandoned his own family to surround himself in a new one. Given Owen's beliefs about himself and his family, there is little surprise that he was so deeply religious, but his distaste for his family seemed out of place to the rest of his character. His spiritual devotion is something I admire in him, and so he becomes inspirational, because to have faith that strong is something I ought to strive for with greater dedication.
Owen's certainty and sense of purpose are an excellent contrast to the narrator John, who lacks both. John's just as memorable as Owen, because he is just so normal that anyone could recognize tan aspect of him within themselves.
The plot twists and turns, with little mysteries that pop up again and again; all is resolved by the end of the book, but not often as you would expect. Great book.
Owen is the best friend Johnny could ask for. He's small. He's strange. He has an odd voice. And he killed Johnny's mother...
This amazing story of friendship sweeps the reader up in it's sentimentality and mysteriousness. The vastness of this novel is so overwhelmingly powerful that it is hard to find words to describe it's depth. Johnny and Owen are so deeply connected that the emotion in the book is almost palpable.
John Irving's effective use of foreshadowing and strong political references weave in and out of this friendship story to create a final scene so heartbreakingly surprising as to leave the reader almost breathless.
This book might not be for everybody, but nobody who finishes this novel will be left without feeling.
My favorite quote from the novel which, in a way, epitomizes what the whole book is about:
"I want to go on being a student," I told him. "I want to be a teacher. I'm just a reader," I said.
"DON'T SOUND SO ASHAMED," he said. "READING IS A GIFT."
"I learned it from you," I told him.
"IT DOESN'T MATTER WHERE YOU LEARNED IT- IT'S A GIFT. IF YOU CARE ABOUT SOMETHING, YOU HAVE TO PROTECT IT- IF YOU'RE LUCKY ENOUGH TO FIND A WAY OF LIFE YOU LOVE, YOU HAVE TO FIND THE COURAGE TO LIVE IT."
This wasn't one of my favorite reads. In order to enjoy a story, I have to find characters I like, admire, or just feel compassion for. I found none of these qualities in any of the characters. I didn't like Owen Meany at all. After hearing other comments from the Book Club I understand why they did like it but I still didn't.
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.
If you like Irving, you'll love this book! If you've never read Irving, this is a good one to start on. Lots of heart, and the ending is so emotional, in a good way. I love how even the smallest details fit together and have a purpose by the end.
I read only the first 2 chapters. It was like reading a case study in psychiatry, now that I'm retired, I' don't want to read any more of those. The capital letters used for Owen felt like he was yelling at me. To me, yelling represents anger and violence, so I did not appreciate it. Way too much detail. I'm not going to read the rest of it.
Owen Meany is a very strange but lovable character. This book is a must read. I don't usually read books twice, but I've read this at least 3 times, love it, love it, love it! Whenever I'm asked what my faorite book is I must say, "A Prayer for Owen Meany." Shows the true spirit of forgivness and love.