a prayer for owen meany

title: A Prayer for Owen Meany

author: John Irving

genre: Fiction, childhood, friendship

dates read: April 5th – April 13th

review: 4 out of 5 stars

summary: John Wheelwright and Owen Meany are best friends.  Owen is known for his diminutive size (he’s only 5 feet tall) and his voice, which is falsetto and doesn’t change with puberty.  As John recounts his life with Owen, he shares Owen’s many insights and eccentricities.  Indeed, Owen seems very old for his age and is somehow able to manipulate adults into doing his will.

personal thoughts: With 641 pages this was the longest read so far.  And I had a difficult time since the story jumped around a lot.  In the particular publication that I read, Irving has an intro where he talks about writing the book.  He writes that he “thought the capitals would be…irritating.  Owen’s voice is irritating, not only because of how it sounds but because of how right he is.”  And it works, all of Owen’s spoken and written words are in ALL CAPITALS.  Obviously it’s like he’s yelling and I found that irritating.  Up until the end of the book I didn’t really get the point of the stories John Wheelwright tells.  But Irving ties them up in a brilliant and tragic way.  In the end, I saw the beauty and point of the story.

favorite quotes:
“I have a church-rummage faith – the kind that needs patching up every weekend.” p. 4

“we don’t enjoy giving directions in New Hampshire – we tend to think that if you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t belong where you are.” p. 19

“Owen Meany. . .rarely wasted words and. . .had the conversation-stopping habit of dropping remarks like coins into a deep pool of water . . . remarks that sank, like truth, to the bottom of the pool where they would remain, untouchable . . .” p. 41

“But it was what a summer wedding should be – sultry, something momentarily pretty, giving way to a heat that is unrestrained.” p. 124

“When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time – the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers.  Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone.” p.142

“If watching television doesn’t hasten death, it surely manages to make death very inviting; for television so shamelessly sentimentalizes and romanticizes death that it makes the living feel they have missed something – just by staying alive.” p. 458


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