A Prayer for Owen Meany

A Prayer for Owen Meany

A Novel

Book - 1989
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Random House, Inc.
Owen Meany, the only child of a New Hampshire granite quarrier, believes he is God's instrument; he is. This is John Irving's most comic novel, yet Owen Meany is Mr. Irving's most heartbreaking character. 'Roomy, intelligent, exhilarating and darkly comic...Dickensian in scope....Quite stunning and very ambitious.' LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK REVIEW 'John Irving is an abundantly and even joyfully talented storyteller.' THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOKR EVIEW
Owen Meany, the only child of a New Hampshire granite quarrier, believes he is God's instrument; he is.
This is John Irving's most comic novel, yet Owen Meany is Mr. Irving's most heartbreaking character.
"Roomy, intelligent, exhilarating and darkly comic...Dickensian in scope....Quite stunning and very ambitious."
LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK REVIEW
"John Irving is an abundantly and even joyfully talented storyteller."
THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOKR EVIEW

Baker & Taylor
While playing baseball in the summer of 1953, Owen Meany hits a foul ball that kills his best friend's mother, and he becomes convinced that he is an instrument of God

Publisher: Toronto : Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1989
ISBN: 9780345361790
0345361792
9780886192280
0886192285
9780886192266
0886192269
Characteristics: 543 p

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EthanMcCarthy
Aug 15, 2017

Fantastic tale! The comedy -drama is full of surprises and humour. The plot is incredibly well crafted and leads to a stunning climax although clues have been left along the journey. Very gripping-really enjoyed it -read it within a week.

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TEENREVIEWBOARD
Apr 13, 2017

John Irving's most well-known novel, A Prayer For Owen Meany, was an international bestseller when it was published in 1989. The protagonist's - Catholic school teacher John Wheelwright's - memories of his adolescent best friend, Owen Meany, a boy who suffers from dwarfism and believes that he is God's instrument, takes full centre of the book. John Irving is a fantastic writer: his comic, detailed, and intelligent prose is vast in scope and manages to find humour in even the darkest scenarios. The character of Owen Meany is by far one of the most complex, original characters I have ever read in a novel, and is a character that I will remember for a very long time.
- @reallylikesmusicals of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

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sgcf
Mar 30, 2017

I loved this book - so powerful! Irving is a brilliant story teller, perfectly structuring the complex themes of friendship, religion, politics & principles, and fate vs free will. His language and imagery is exquisitely rich; his vividly detailed characters and scenarios prove him a master of that fundamental writing advice: show by example – don’t tell. Irving reveals to us in tiny sneak-peeks what is coming without revealing the whole picture until the very end. At the end of the book I felt a little like the young narrator when he says about his dead mother: "When someone you love dies unexpectedly, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in little pieces over a long time." (p.135). I marvelled at Irving’s insight into humanity. This book is simultaneously filled with hilarity and pathos, and will become one of my all time favourites.

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wandalynn
Jun 25, 2016

The male bonding thing just didn't click for me and the ending was not worth the buildup. I'd have been fine with stopping after the first sentence; it pretty much did sum up the entire book.

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bogwolf
Jun 10, 2016

I quite liked Garp, but Owen Meany less. I think the central reason is that the narrator of Prayer for Owen Meany, Johnny Wheelwright, is aggrieved yet passive. This puts us, the readers, in the position of listening to him complain but watching his rudderless lack of action in the attempt to change anything.

Prayer for Owen Meany has its roots in a small New England town, and mostly a small but prestigious high school within that town. The novel goes elsewhere, but aside from an airport in Arizona, none of the other settings is fully realized; they merely exist to have his characters fulfill the stations of this passion play.

Each chapter is a novella unto itself, each could stand alone, but their repetition in terms of motifs was occasionally tiresome. Yes we already know what Owen said about the granite sea-wall, we know what Simon will say of his sister, we know what Hester will do in the rose garden. To be fair, the recurring trains, images of armlessness, and even "The Shot" while oft repeated did not grow old for me.

Irving can be quite funny, and the undoing of the wicked headmaster was a laugh.

But in the end, there is more here than I want. It is like a meal larger than desired. And with a self-pitying narrator, somewhat like a meal served by a surly waiter.

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matth1949
Dec 29, 2015

I too laughed and cried while reading A Prayer for Owen Meany. I took it to be "Christian Neutral" satirizing religious folks who happened to claim to be Christians.
I sympathize with questioning the wars we have engaged in since 1945. We did loose all of them and made the world less safe and sane in every one.

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BellaD123
Jul 03, 2015

I didn't warm up to the story. It was difficult to imagine Owen Meany as a plausible, real person. Overall, I found this book to take an anti-Christian stance, which can be offensive to some, myself included, particularly considering the title of the book.

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dmacarthur
Jun 21, 2015

Really great read. At first I wondered why my friend lent this book to me in the first place, however, as I kept reading I didn't want to put the book down. Really really enjoyed this book.

Chapel_Hill_KenMc Dec 20, 2014

I don't know why it took me so long to get around to reading this book, but I think it ranks right up there with the best books of the 20th century. It's near-perfect in its structure, and the characters are brilliantly written. I won't be forgetting Owen Meany anytime soon.

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becker
Dec 12, 2014

Based on many other wonderful reviews for this book, I clearly missed the magic when I read it. I wasn't able to bond with the characters at all and I thought big chunks of it were just tedious to get through. It's not that I don't see the merit in the book but it just didn't make an impact on me.

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JuniperAvenue
Sep 21, 2013

"Faith takes practice," said Owen Meany.

j
JuniperAvenue
Sep 18, 2013

"...good friends are nothing to each other if they are not supportive."

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DavidB
Jan 17, 2009

I could have told her that it was only our illusion that Owen Mean weighed 'nothing at all.' We were only children--we are only children-- I could have told her. What did we know about Owen? What did we truly know? We had the impression that everything was a game-- we thought we made everything up as we went along. When we were children,we had the impression that almost eveything was just for fun-- no harm intended, no damage done. When we held Owen Meany above our heads, when we passed him back and forth-- so effortlessly-- we believed that Owen weighed nothing at all. We did not realize that there were forces beyond our play. Now I know they were the forces that contributed to our illusion of Owen's weightlessness; they were the forces we didn't have faith to feel, they were the forces we failed to believe in-- and they were also the lifting up Owen Meany, taking him out of our hands. O God-- please give him back! I shall keep on asking You.

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DavidB
Jan 17, 2009

By the time she came back, of course, we'd forgotten everything about whatever 'it' was-- because as soon as she left the room, we would fool around with a frenzy. Because being alone with our thoughts was no fun, we would pick up Owen Meany and pass him back and forth, overhead. We managed this while remaining seeted in our chairs- that was the challenge of the game. Someone-- I forgot who started it--would get up, seize Owen, sit back down with him, pass him to the next person, who would pass him on and so forth. The girls were included in this game; some of the girls were the most enthusiastic about it. Everyone could lift up Owen. We were very careful; we never dropped him. His shirt might become a litle rumpled. His necktie was so long, Owen tucked it in his trousers--or else it would have hung to his knees-- and his necktie often cam untucked; sometimes his change would fall out (in our faces). We always gave him his money back.

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DavidB
Jan 17, 2009

In Sunday school, we developed a form of enterainment based on abusing Owen Meany, who was so small that not only did his feet not touch the floor when he sat in his chair-- his knees did not extend to the edge of his seat: therefore, his legs stuck out straight, like the legs of a doll. It was as if Owen Meany had been born without realistic joints

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DavidB
Jan 12, 2009

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.

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Pixieminion
Aug 01, 2016

Pixieminion thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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Pixieminion
Aug 01, 2016

This book is about Owen from the perspective of John, the narrator. They are best friends and the book takes us through their lives together. Early in the book, Owen hits the baseball that kills John's mother, whom they both love dearly. There is also the mystery of who John's father is as well as what will happen to Owen Meany (it becomes clear as you read that Owen has some kind of purpose). Overall, this book is more about faith (in the world, god, each other, etc.) than anything else. It will make you question the world around you as well as your place in it.

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