Ashley's Reviews > A Prayer for Owen Meany

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
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's review
Jun 22, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: currentlyreading
Read in June, 2007

a whole-hearted kind of irving novel. my irving kick started with the cider house rules and burned quickly through garp (good to start with the classics), a widow for one year (didn't like very much), hotel new hampshire, and then owen meany. irving has a kind of roundness and soulfulness on the one hand that really brings you into the characters. they have full and complex voices and sometimes nearly inscrutable relationships. hardly any other authors i can think of have such a light touch that they avoid explanations of characters but, instead, shed light from a dozen angles on each character over the course of a novel so that the reader, should he or she choose to, may find out these characters' complexities all on their own. much like john updike, irving does not give into the temptation to analyse--psychologically or otherwise--his characters. this is one of the pitfalls, in my opinion, of contemporary literature----the belief that psychological depth must adhere to the systems we all believe in (it's about your mother!).

irving is also arch, witty, and even grumpy in his prose. wonderful characteristics in this age of authors holding hands with their readers. this makes the fullness of his characters so much more rich and rewarding.

also, i have never met an author who can deal with death without, again, descending into the most familiar psychological, analytical, or sentimental formulae. death is one of the most difficult themes for any writer; and is equally difficult in an age that denies finality while embracing drama. having read a few irving novels, i now know that death is, in his world, always potentially around the corner. there is something unrelenting in this part of irving's world; and that makes you trust him as a reader.
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07/16 marked as: read

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