Matthew's Reviews > A Prayer for Owen Meany

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
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Jul 01, 09

bookshelves: literary
Recommended to Matthew by: Polly
Read in June, 2009

I have deeply conflicted feelings about this book. First, the bad: the first half is so unbelievably flabby and aimless that I gave up reading it once, and almost a second time, and only persevered because several people whose taste in literature I trust and respect love this book. The narrative seems to go nowhere, or everywhere; there is no discernible plot so much as a labyrinth of unconnected details and meandering vignettes. The second half of the book suffers from this somewhat as well, principally because the narrator is an altogether uncompelling character who inexplicably interrupts the narrative to launch diatribes about Reagan and Iran-Contra in a way that never actually connect to anything else in the book. There is also a strong undercurrent of misogyny throughout the whole novel that I find unnecessary and distasteful.

However. The central story of Owen Meany, this little boy who believes himself to be the instrument of God's will in the world, is brilliant and heartbreaking. Nearly perfect in construction, and certainly a nuanced and challenging story about faith, doubt, and our relationship to God. It is so good that all the other weaknesses and distractions in the novel can't bury its emotional power.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Kate (last edited Feb 16, 2009 07:41AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kate i didn't really get into it until about the halfway point, I didn't care much for the narrator's rambling on his present life scenario, but the story of their (his and Owen's) shared past is great. the set up and storyline of this book reminds me a lot of Stegner's Angle of Repose in that it's a present person ruminating about the past, and present life intrudes every so often.

i fell in love with the characters though, so your one dimensional opinion is probably due to the snapshot of the story you've read.


Matthew Ok, ok. You guys make a fair case. I'll give it another shot.


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