Saturday, 10 October 2009

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

DATE PUBLISHED: 1989 DATE READ: September 2009 NOTES: This is a wonderful book in every way – poignant, funny and thoughtful. Johnny Wheelwright recounts the story of his friendship with Owen – a boy of very small stature (dwarfism is never mentioned) who is highly intelligent and socially manipulative. But as well as being clever Owen is convinced he has been chosen by God for a special purpose. He also claims to know the date of his death – a fact that Johnny treats with great scepticism. There is much sadness in the book – Owen seems to come from such an unloving family, Johnny would love to know who his real father is, people die unexpectedly and tragically. But the friendship and love of Johnny and Owen overcomes all this as they move through childhood to adulthood. The narrative is brilliantly constructed and everything in the story is relevant. Irving explores ideas on organised religion and spiritually and although the story is set in small town New Hampshire the wider political scene is referred to as John links his narrative with facts about the Vietnam War and the Iran-Contra affair. I chose to read this book as it so often appears on those lists of “most favourite books”. I left in on my book shelf for over a year – initially put off by the 640 pages. But now I realise it was a wonderful treat just waiting for me! Owen Meany must be one of the best literary creations of all times…..

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