"" The Relentless Reader: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

July 22, 2013

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving



A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Publication Date: March 1989
Categories: Literary
Source: My own copy

Description:

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.

In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary.

My Thoughts:

I SHOULD WRITE THIS REVIEW IN ALL CAPS. IF YOU'VE READ THE BOOK YOU'LL KNOW WHY. IF NOT, PLEASE GET YOURSELF TO THE NEAREST BOOKSTORE/LIBRARY AND GET YOURSELF A COPY.

Okay, enough of that. It's annoying.

I think I read Owen Meany at just the right time for me. If I had read this in '89, when it first came out, it wouldn't have affected me as much as it did.

When Irving goes on about A Christmas Carol I got it. I've acted in the play and I recognized all of the lines. When The Great Gatsby was discussed I felt excited because I've recently re-read it. Johnny is a bit obsessed with politics and the news. Hey, me too! Etc., etc.

This quote pretty much sums up my life:

“Newspapers are a bad habit, the reading equivalent of junk food. What happens to me is that I seize upon an issue in the news—the issue is the moral/philosophical, political/intellectual equivalent of a cheeseburger with everything on it; but for the duration of my interest in it, all my other interests are consumed by it, and whatever appetites and capacities I may have had for detachment and reflection are suddenly subordinate to this cheeseburger in my life! I offer this as self-criticism; but what it means to be "political" is that you welcome these obsessions with cheeseburgers—at great cost to the rest of your life.” 

I chuckled my way throughout the whole book. Owen is such a character. Is there anyone like him in the history of books? I think not. His views and shenanigans are priceless. There's a scene involving the headmaster, a car, and a set of stairs that sent me over the hysterical edge. (Seriously. The BAHAHAHA kind of laughter that had my family wondering what was wrong with me.)

When I wasn't laughing I was wiping away tears. There were so many moments when I felt choked up. This book is emotional and poignant. The end...oh sweet Jesus, the end!

Have you read A Prayer for Owen Meany? If not, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? 


75 comments:

  1. I read this SO long ago but it remains one of my all time favorites. Your review makes me want to revisit Owen Meany! I can really relate to that quote too, I can get distracted for hours passionately debating an issue on a news article.

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    1. I can definitely say that this will be on my list of all time favorite books. I'm SO glad that I finally read it! :D

      Thanks so much for visiting Donna!

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  2. What an amazing review, Jennifer, it makes me want to do a little dance! I have Owen Meany here on my shelves, and I haven't read it yet, but I think this will be the next book I wil read (when I finish my current book)

    Oh, John Irving!!
    (sorry, could not resist :-) )

    Have a great day & kind regards,

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    1. Do a little dance, I'd love it! :) I hope you DO read this next!

      LOL, ohhhh John! You know I adooorrrrreee him!

      Have a good one Bettina ;)

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  3. It seems that everyone who participated in this readalong seemed to really enjoy Meany. I'm so glad since I loved this book a few years ago. I've been meaning to read something else by Irving, but he just has such a huge backlist - not sure where to go next. I have read The Fourth Hand back in college.

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    1. If you haven't read The Cider House Rules I totally recommend it. Whew! It's a GREAT book.

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  4. It sounds like you had a fantastic time reading Owen Meany. That's awesome. It's been on my list forever, but I haven't read it yet.

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    1. I did! I did! I can't recommend this one enough and I think you should read it NOW! ;)

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  5. Glad you liked this, too - this is not just my favorite novel from one of my favorite writers, it's also one of my favorite novels of all time. Yes, the end. My God, the end.

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    1. It is now firmly on my list of all time favorites as well Greg. Amazing read. Amazing. :)

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  6. I love this book. It made me guffaw so many times (I had to read the part about the car out loud to Eric)...and the end made me ugly cry.

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    1. Yes! The car scene had me in such hysterics, lol. A book that can make you laugh aloud AND ugly cry? Winner!

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  7. Don't hate me... but... I think I might be the only person who has read "A Prayer for Owen Meany" and didn't LOVELOVEOMFGLOOOOOVE it. I liked it well enough to finish it, but not enough for a glowing rave and re-read. I felt the same about "Cider House Rules". I get why people love Irving's books, I respect it, but I can't help it—I'm just neutral about them.

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    1. I hate you. Goodbye. Ha ha! Just kidding of course!!

      He's just not your thing. That's okay, it's what keeps this world a'spinning. We all have different taste. :D

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  8. Obviously I need to read this. I don't know what I'm waiting for. Yes I do. I was waiting for Jen to tell me to read it in ALL CAPS! :)

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    1. YOU DO NEED TO READ THIS. STOP WAITING AND GET TO IT ASAP!!! :)

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  9. I read this years ago and loved it too!

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  10. I haven't read it yet...sigh. I guess it's time to go find it! :)

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    1. It IS time Lindsey! It is! :D I really do hope you get to it, it's a fantastic read!

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  11. I've added this to my to read list. Thanks for your review.

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    1. I'm so glad to hear this Pat :) I hope you're able to get to it soon and that you enjoy it even half as much as I did!

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  12. Thank you for the push to go and look for this title. I haven't read this particular Irving book but everyone I know who did, loved it. I am now motivated--thanks for sharing.

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    1. It's an amazing book Rita, I really hope you're able to get to it! :D

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  13. YES YES YES! A damn fine read indeed. Can't wait to review it.

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    1. I'm so glad you guys picked this for the readalong. It was perfect timing for me!

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  14. I had actually never heard of this book! Based on the description, it doesn't seem like it would be a light read, but based on your review it sounds like it would be a lot of fun :)

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    1. Nope, I wouldn't call it light, nor quick. It's a chunkster but omg so worth the time! :D

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  15. wow. what a review! I haven't heard of it before but I guess to pick it up. RIGHT AWAY! Thanks for the recommendation. This is how I felt about The Book Thief so I look forward to trying it out!

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    1. Yes Tanya, PLEASE DO!! Lol ;) For real, it's fantastic!

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  16. I honestly don't know what I'm waiting for. Clearly I need to get my hands on a copy of these ASAP.

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    1. I really hope you do Sarah! I had such a great time reading it :)

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  17. This has been on my TBR list so long, it is just embarrassing. Your Caps Lock key may have convinced me to make time for it....finally.

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    1. I have a stack of those sort of books, the ones that have been languishing for no good reason...sigh. I do hope you make time for it, it's fab!

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  18. Very good book! Have you seen Simon Birch? It is the movie version of Owen Meany. I think the name was changed at request of the author. And though it ends the same, it happens in a different way(well from what I remember).

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    1. Fantastic book! Most people have said to skip the movie. I have this niggling feeling that I saw it when it was first released though. Maybe? LOL

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    2. I thought it was an ok movie. And beings my husband would not read the book, he got an idea of what the book was about. He loved the movie and teared up at the ending.

      Btw, I've discovered something about blogger. If your people posting hit the "subscribe by email" link under the lower right hand corner of the comment box, they will get your responses in their email, without having to check back! This has been driving me nuts since I have Blogger too and was wondering how to get the "check for replies" box. Well that's it! I just got your reply in my email. (Maybe you already knew all this? Lol, but just in case...)

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    3. LOL, I did know all that but I don't think that everyone does! What I really wonder is if people on Word Press can subscribe by email in the same way? I have a few regular readers that can't seem to subscribe to replies in that way. I should hit Twitter to ask people about that.

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    4. The movie just looked horrible to me and my wife, who both love the book. From the reviews, it sounded like they changed a lot. BUT maybe some day.

      Agree with you, Jennifer, on the caps. Annoying, in hindsight. At the time I read it originally not so much, but since those CAPS ARE PRETTY DAMNED ANNOYING. Speaking of Blogger, on your blog, I would like an option to comment with my name and URL instead of having to use Google. It takes too long for others to find my blog that way since it's not a Blogger blog. Just something to think about adding.

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    5. I would really REALLY like to have a different option for commenting but this is all Blogger has :( I can't have anonymous commenting because of the ridiculous amount of spam.

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  19. It's been ages since I read this one, but I sure did love it. Great review!

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    1. Thanks JoAnn :) It was such a pleasure to read this!

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  20. Did I mention that I kept picturing Owen as a person with Progeria Syndrome as I read this? Dunno, just what came to my mind with the description of his appearance and THE VOICE.

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    1. That actually makes total sense! I never really could nail down a look for him in my mind. I'm very curious how they handle his voice on audio.

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  21. I really wish I had been able to do this readalong, because your first sentence is basically what everyone has been telling me forever. I KNOW I would love this book, I just need to sit down and read it! I'm planning on doing bookshelf reads over my Christmas vacation, and this might have to be one of them. So glad you were able to read and enjoy!

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    1. This will be a wonderful Christmas gift to yourself Shannon :) I really do hope you're able to read it. It's fantastic!

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  22. Okay, confession: I've started this novel three times and just lose interest and put it aside. You make me want to persevere. I will have to give it another go.

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    1. There are some dry spots in the beginning so it's understandable. You should absolutely give it another go! :D

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  23. Ok, I give up. Do you ever have something (specifically, a book) that keeps popping up in random places in your life? So many people have mentioned this book to me recently! When that happens (especially if it's an older book that isn't a current bestseller), I feel like I should just go ahead and read the thing. If I come across it at the next library sale, I will definitely have to snag a copy :)

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    1. Yes! I know exactly what you mean! The universe is definitely trying to tell you something ;) I can recommend this one highly enough.

      Thanks so much for visiting me here!

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  24. For whatever reason, I have never wanted to read this or any book by John Irving other than TWATG. You're making me want to read it! Is there not ONE SINGLE BOOK in this world I don't have to read?!?!? ;)

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    1. Ha ha! This made me laugh :) You must read every single book in the world, lol! Well, at least A Prayer for Owen Meany..that's non-negotiable!!

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  25. I have never been drawn to this book, ever. But...maybe I should try?? (Seriously, it seems so unappealing but your all caps is also so appealing!)

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    1. Oh yes! You really should! In my opinion anyway :)

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  26. Guess I have to transfer this book from my bookshelf to my to be read bed-pile after reading your review.

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    1. I guess you do! :D I think you'll like it!

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  27. I'm so glad you liked it! I read this a couple years ago in Budapest. I ran out of books on a backpacking trip and found a little English language bookstore there and got a copy. I loved it so much and it always takes me back to that trip. The character of Owen, the intensity of the ending, so wonderful!

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    1. Love that! Certain books are like scents or songs, they can take you back to a moment in time :)

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  28. Love Love Love. And you are right, there is no character like Owen.

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    1. I have a feeling I'll be re-reading this every couple of years :D

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  29. I keep putting this book off for one reason or another, but it does sound like it will be a good one when I am ready for it!

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    1. I hope you're ready for it soon, it's just soooo darn good! :)

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  30. I love this book. I listened to it via audio, so I *really* got to know Owen's voice very well. The ending is just outstanding. My favorite Irving novel, by far.

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    1. I've been curious about how it sounded on audio, lol. I hope it wasn't too annoying??

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  31. I keep hearing I need to read this! Looks like I need to get to it. But the poignant ending makes me hesitate!

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    1. It's so worth it Heather, I promise :)

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  32. I've been waiting with anticipation for you to review this one! I haven't read it but it's on my Classics Club list, so maybe I'll bump it up a bit :)

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    1. It was on my list as well. This book is ridiculously good, I think you'll love it!

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  33. awww...I want to read this one. I saw the film years ago and I cried so much my throat hurt.

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    1. Please do read it! :D It's remarkable!!

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  34. This seems like such a great book! I've never read anything by the author, but I think I'll be ordering this one from my bookshop :) It sounds like exactly what I need to read right now. Thanks!

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    1. Oh my gosh, I could go on and on about Irving! I do hope you read this, it's fantastic!

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