A Prayer for Owen Meany
It's been a long time coming to finish Owen Meany. It is a political novel, it is a religious novel, it is a coming-of-age novel. It is about searching for identity, love (both romantic and familial), war, on and on and on.
"WE HAVE A GENERATION OF PEOPLE WHO ARE ANGRY TO LOOK FORWARD TO," Owen said. "AND MAYBE TWO GENERATIONS OF PEOPLE WHO DON'T GIVE A SHIT," he added.
Owen Meany, though he annoyingly shrieks in capitals through the entire novel because of his freakishly high-pitched voice, is equal parts nut and sage, prophet and detective, rebellious and loyal. He's almost too perfect, but he is balanced out by our narrator Johnny Wheelwright.
The book begins as John reminisces about his childhood and his best friend Owen, it continues with huge events that define a lifetime. Own accidentally kills John's mother with a foul ball, Owen at the age of 8 takes the place of the baby Jesus in swaddling clothes, grandma gets a TV, Owen predicts his own death, the Vietnam War begins, etc, etc.
About half-way through the novel, it becomes more obvious that this novel is a flashback. The author begins telling two stories at once, the story of Johnny's childhood and the story of his current adulthood, simultaneously until event begin to overlap and everything falls into place for the reader. Admittedly, I began getting bored of the book during this middle part. I think the the book definitely benefits from this style of writing, because a completely chronological story would be boring and flat. It helps to build and create and shape the characters and helps lend realism and credibility to the fantastic nature of Owen Meany. The end though picked up pace and finished strong.
I can't speak to the religious nature of this book because it bored me. There was a lot of talk about the differences between Catholics and Episcopalians and I am sure a ton of references and metaphors in things that happened in the book, for instance Owen defaces a statue of Mary Magdalene by removing her from her pedestal. There are also decidedly obvious references to Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter.
Since I was not reading this novel for a class, I didn't take notes in it and on it as I usually would, but this book is definitely ripe to be picked apart. I'm sure I'll look up more information on the novel later, but as of today I've only looked at a writer's biography. I've also heard that there was a movie based on this book called Simon Birch, but the premis sounds a lot better. I also read on Wikipedia that John Irving let them write a screen play based on the novel but would not let them use the same names from his novel. Also the Simon Birch character who is based on Owen Meany is a dwarf while the cause of Owen Meany's short-stature and voice is never discovered in the novel.