Thursday, July 5, 2007

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

This book was recommended to me by my boss, after I described Catcher in the Rye to her. Since she had never read Catcher, I am not sure what made her think that I would like this book. In actuality the two books do not have much in common, except that they are both written like a memoir or diary — essentially the main character is telling you a story about his past. I guess the books do have two things in common: I thoroughly enjoyed both of them, and each author created a character that was completely unforgettable. Moral of the story, my boss was right. That must be why she gets paid the big bucks.

Much like Salinger’s Holden Caulfield, Owen Meany is forever burned into my brain, maybe even to a greater degree than Caulfield. Although the story is told through the eyes of Johnny Wheelwright, Owen Meany, who is friends with Wheelwright, is truly the main character of the book. He is hilariously funny — intentionally and unintentionally — unbelievably smart, but all the while mysterious. In truth Owen Meany is full of mystery. Why is he less than five feet tall as a senior in high school? Why does his voice always sound as if he is screaming his words? What happened at his Catholic church that caused him to hate them so? What exactly does he know about the future? Maybe more importantly: What does he think he knows about the future?

This is the first book by John Irving that I have read. I have been told by many that it is his best. Irving does an excellent job of creating characters and situations that linger with you long after you have closed the book. (I just closed the book about twelve hours ago, but I thought that phrase sounded nice.) He creates a realistic world, one that seems familiar. But there is something slightly off about this place, namely Owen Meany. I never knew anyone like Owen Meany growing up. I hesitate to say that I wish I did.

This book has instantly become one of my favorites, easily in my top five. I highly recommend it.

Check out Brent’s review of this book.


Christopher said...

Did you see the movie?

Carlton said...

I loved Simon Birch. But if my memory of it is correct, it left out some big plot points. I really should watch it again.

Alyson said...

Carlton and Owen sittin' in a tree

Carlton said...

Hey, stop that!