A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
1989 Ballantine Books
Read in June 1999
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
Eleven-year-old Owen Meany, playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire, hits a foul ball and kills his best friend's mother. Owen doesn't believe in accidents; he believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul is both extraordinary and terrifying. At moments a comic, self-deluded victim, but in the end the principal, tragic actor in a divine plan, Owen Meany is the most heartbreaking hero John Irving has yet created.
My Original Notes (1999):
Fantastic! My first encounter with Irving and I love his style. Definitely want to read more by him.
I wrote the above before I got very far in the novel. I enjoyed the book a lot, but I didn't love it. The middle dragged - actually, it didn't drag, but it was so much more serious than the first part. I loved the humorous parts when Johnny and Owen were still children.
My Current Thoughts:
I re-read this novel in 2005 and enjoyed it even better than the first time around. I wrote the following about that second reading:
It's been almost five years since I first read this and I was a little worried about re-reading it for an online group discussion (some re-reads are just as good the second time around, but others are disappointing, leaving me to wonder if I should ever re-read a favorite and possibly spoil that first impression). Well, I need not have worried. I loved this book! I thought it was fantastic back in 1999 and loved it just as much, if not more, this second time around. Ironically, when I originally read it, I enjoyed the first half much more than the second. I preferred the humor that was so predominate when John and Owen were children and felt the second half was much more serious. This time, I preferred the second half and was slightly bored with the first. There was quite a lot of foreshadowing, yet in spite of it all I still could not for the life of me remember how the book ended. I suppose getting older and forgetful has its benefits.
A Favorite Passage:
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. Just when the day comes - when there's a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she's gone, forever - there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.