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Claire

A Prayer For Owen Meany

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I've just finished reading this and loved it. I know a few people here have read it, as it got mentionned on the Books that makes you cry thread.

 

So - what did you think of it? To my surprise, it didn't make me cry at all. Maybe that was because I was expecting a big, tragic ending, so I was ready for it. I saw what was coming way before it actually did.

 

Loved it all the same, though. Owen was a fantastic character, as was the whole Wheelwright family.

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I liked it, too, when I read it, although it was a very long time ago. No tears shed on my copy either.

 

Big John Irving fan in general. I'd single out "Garp" and "Hotel New Hampshire" for special praise more than "Owen Meany".

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I love 'Owen Meany'. I find all of John Irvine's work compulsive, but this is my favourite. I like the CAPITAL LETTERS that he uses for Owen's voice, what does he sound like? Such an intriguing character. I can't remember if I cried or not, I think I may have done which is unusual for me because I don't normally get so involved. I never see an ending coming, however obvious, so I could easily have been caught.

 

You've made me want to dig it out and read it again - excellent! :D

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I could never get into it. I tried reading it a few times but it just never interested me. I can't even remember why, it was a few years ago that I picked it up. I'm not the biggest Irving fan though.

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I like the CAPITAL LETTERS that he uses for Owen's voice, what does he sound like?

 

I can answer this one - but only by giving away the ending, so don't click on the spoiler box, if you are ever likely to want to read this!!

 

Spoiler - Chapter 1

 

Owen wonders a lot in the book about the reason his voice is the way it is - and in particular, why his voice never breaks. At the end, where he calls out "Don't panic" and "Lie Down" (or similar) to the children, in their own language - he suddenly realises the answer. His voice sounds like that of the Vietnamese kids - they are more likely to trust him and respond, because he sounds like one of them. That's the reason it sounds the way it does. [/s

 

I find it a powerful and disturbing concept that Owen lives most of his life knowing that his end is "pre-ordained" - and that he will give his life to save others. That fore-shadowing was haunting to read - the way he faced up to his knowledge so squarely and determinedly - rather than trying to hide from it or divert events.

 

 

Spoiler - Chapter 2

 

I found that the obsession with practising the baseball shot disturbing - and that was what gave the ending away. It was clearly never going to be used in a real baseball match. So it had to be something to do with his end - and getting a bomb out of a confined space seemed the only possibility

 

 

Loved this book! I've not read anything else by John Irving, but I'm keen to now.

Edited by MisterHobgoblin
Cleaning up spoilers

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Claire, thanks for your 'spoiler' above which answered my question and showed smart thinking (gold star!). Def. need to dig it out again and add it to my (huge) to be read pile. If only work didn't get in the way of my reading needs...

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I've read this and Garp and have loved both. I've also picked up another 4 of Irvings work in the same cover style because I love how they look on my bookcase! The trouble is that I can't now decide which one to read!

 

I have:

The Hotel New Hampshire

The Cider House Rules

A Son of the Circus

A Widow for One Year

 

Any suggestions which one would be good to read next?

 

As for Owen, I think he is one of the most fabulous characters ever created, I wish I could have a best friend like him.

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I'd go for "Hotel NH", although I guess I'm a bit biased towards it as it was the book that introduced me to Irving.

 

Hope you're enjoying "The Secret History", I'd nominate it as one of my favourite novels of all time.

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I think you should gp for "Cider House Rules". It's the one I liked best ofter "Owen"

 

"Good night you princes of Maine, you kings of New England".

 

I know I have gotten the quote wrong, just can't think of it of the top of my head. Anyone know?

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I haven't read Son of the Circus, but of the others I'd go with Widow for One Year. So that's three answers and three different recommendations - congratulations! You'll just have to read all three, they are all fabulous, but W4OY is the only one I've read twice (although I have also read Owen Meany and Garp twice, at least).

 

Let us know your decision/opinion.

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It has at least ruled out one of the books! I think I may have to do my eyes closed and point trick, works a treat everytime :P

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I thought I'd start a thread on this as I noticed someone had bought/borrowed it yesterday, and I'm sure lots of us have read it. I won't say too much yet.. just that I remember being profoundly affected by it and (at the time) thought that it was the best book I'd ever read. It's probably still in my top three. It's a book that has so much in it with such memorable characters and I'd love to chat about it with some of you guys.

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I thought I'd start a thread on this as I noticed someone had bought/borrowed it yesterday, and I'm sure lots of us have read it. I won't say too much yet.. just that I remember being profoundly affected by it and (at the time) thought that it was the best book I'd ever read. It's probably still in my top three. It's a book that has so much in it with such memorable characters and I'd love to chat about it with some of you guys.

 

Hi lipstick_librarian

I agree with you 100% about Owen Meany.

 

Did you mean this to be thread for only this book or a John Irving thread?

 

ENJOY

GERBAM

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Did you mean this to be thread for only this book or a John Irving thread?

As the thread title is A Prayer For Owen Meaney it would be best to keep the discussion mainly about that book.

 

There is no reason why you shouldn't start a Twentieth Century Books of John Irving thread or a Recent Books Of John Irving thread (in the Novels of the 21st century forum) as well, if you wish to discuss his writing in more general terms.

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I read it a couple of years ago and thought it was pretty good. It's a little heavy-handed on the Vietnam issue and American foreign policy, but I guess it does fit in well with the beliefs of Owen and Johnny--and Irving, of course. I thought the characters were described quite well and in great detail, the episodes in their lives and their personal development were quite interesting, the faith/doubt and destiny discussions were fairly presented, the friendships were touching, and Irving's narrative was very witty and enjoyable.

 

I plan on trying The World According to Garp as my next Irving novel.

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This is one of my all time favourite books and one I've been meaning to re-read for a while. I thought that Owen Meany was one of the most extraordinary characters that I'd ever read about, especially the relationship he had with his parents. The end was very moving and (as usual for me!) I didn't guess where it was going so I was truly shocked. It may have been heavy handed as someone said, but often things need to be for me to get them! Yes, definitely deserves a re-read.

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Yes, definitely deserves a re-read.

 

I think it's one of those books that you can happily read again with hindsight and gain so much more from it. The plot (or at least Owen's destiny part of it) is very contrived and I'd like to read it again knowing what it is all leading up to. I wonder when I'll have the luxury of enough time to re-read books!

Owen is certainly one of the most memorable characters I've ever 'met'. He's such a great invention - his physicality, his destiny, and of course, his VOICE.

My OH is an Irving fan so I'll have to have a chat to him later and see what he thinks.

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My thoughts on the character of Owen Meany is that he is a corruption of Marilyn Monroe. She died in 1962, in the period of the Vietnam war that features so heavily in the book. America seems to have a preoccupation with events of the sixties (Vietnam, Monroe, Kennedy) and I'm sure A Prayer For Owen Meany is Irving's attempt to bring all these things together.

 

How, you say, can Owen Meany be Marilyn Monroe? Aside from not knowing who their real father was, it's all down to her choice of husbands and lovers, namely Joe DiMaggio, Arthur Miller, and John F. Kennedy. These mens' careers influence the direction of Owen Meany's life: baseball, drama, then politics.

 

I'm not au fait with the whole American love affair with Monroe or the Vietnam War so I can't really comment much further other than to say that I read this book early last year and I thoroughly enjoyed it, its considerable size never feeling like a drag to read.

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This book is my favorite of all time. I'm hounding my boyfriend and mother to read it right now. The foreshadowing is what really made it for me, and Owen's distinct characterization. This novel really pulled me into John Irving. I just finished Son of the Circus and A Widow For One Year. So far, he hasn't let me down.

 

Has anyone else seen the movie it was loosely based on? It's called Simon Birch. It's so completely different, but good in it's own way. (I cry every time I watch it.) I dunno. It's one of those movies where you love it, and then you read the book and it's just not the same.

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