Nancy Aside from the fact that they both begin as "coming of age" stories, and cover a life span (as all lives do), I think they very different stories. Irving has an incredible talent for uncovering the history of important issues in an imaginative way. In Owen Meany he addresses the Vietnam war, religious belief (and perhaps the American obsession with sports - given that there are several spectacular deaths related to various sports!). And with In One Person, he addresses the cultural issues surrounding human sexuality (in its various expressions), and the AIDS pandemic. Irving's books are emotionally true to life - while still managing to be wildly imaginative with the events taking place. He puts his characters in situations and settings that he knows, so perhaps they often have the same feel....but the stories follow their own paths, and the characters - well they are all human (and we humans are more the same than we are different from one another), but they all reflect very individual perspectives on life and the circumstances they encounter. I find each one quite brilliantly unique.
Laura Have you read other books by Irving? They almost all have those same themes running through them. Private school in New England, wrestling, circus bears...
Janet I love John Irving’s books, which is why I have read most of them and will, eventually, read all of them. The two books I asked about were written 23 years apart and deal with different issues. I just happened to read them back to back and it they are so similar, he must have done it on purpose. The boys’ school, the step dad, the popular jock classmate who is secretly battling with gender identity issues, the professors, etc. It is like looking at a still life from different angles around a room and seeing different aspects of the arrangement. I can understand how reading them at different times would make the question seem odd. I am intrigued by his parallel universes and would love to hear from someone who read them close together and saw what I did.
Mark Mcq I've read three of his books now. Those two you mentioned as well as The World According to Garp which was my favourite. I found they all had similar plots; living in a boarding school as a faculty child, living in New England, being around the wrestling team, having a missing father who was in a war. Maybe it is an indication that it's fairly autobiographical.
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)[Apart from some very similar facts that come in the plots of Irving's novels (wrestling, gender issues, overpowering women, ...), I'd say there are obvious similarities between THIS novel and others. The meeting with the father at the end is very similar to 'until I find you...' for instance and I wouldn't be surprised if some such similarities exist between Owean Meany and this one. I have read both and it didn't strike me, I must say but all through the book I had now and then the feeling I had already read that bit of the story somewhere else. So Id' say 'not it's not you :-)' (hide spoiler)]