Thursday, May 22, 2014

TBT ~ A Prayer for Owen Meany

I'm emptying boxes of old papers, sorting through my "millions" of stacks and shelves and boxes of books, and generally trying very hard to get my "stuff" down to a manageable size so I can move to St. Louis.  That's my way of saying I found email notes to and from my earliest online book buddies that I'd like to share with you.  It brought back lots of fond memories from 1997.  Good grief!  That's 17 years ago!  But first, a glimpse of our group's correspondence, then my recollections of a time "long, long ago" when the world was very different.  I'm the only one I'll identify, since I haven't asked these friends if they mind being quoted.
"On John Irving the writer, have you read any other books by him?  Which would you recommend?"

"I keep hearing and seeing raves for the book A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.  Have you read that?  Anyone else read anything by John Irving?"

"I, too, would welcome any input about A Prayer for Owen Meany.  My in-town group has chosen it for January."

"I have a good friend in Maryland that belongs to a book club and they just finished reading A Prayer for Owen Meany.  She said it was very good."

"I just received that book from Amazon yesterday.  Can't wait to start it, but, alas, have a few more ahead of it."

"Yes, I am reading A Prayer for Owen Meany for my intown book group.  Round about chapter 5 or 6 now.  I am enjoying it."

"I just started reading A Prayer for Owen Meany today.  I think I'm really going to enjoy this one."

"This one is also on my 'want to read' list.  Don't know when I will get to it.  Hopefully, when you and Bonnie get through reading the book, you will post to us through e-mails your thoughts ad insights.  I think some of the others in the group have already read this book, but I can't remember who."

Bonnie on December 30, 1997:  "I finished reading A Prayer for Owen Meany last night.  There's a lot here to discuss, whenever folks are ready."

"For those of you who might be interested."  (In the email she sent us, this book buddy put Joan Smith's Salon Interview with John Irving, which had this long sentence:
"Since 1978, when he published The World According to Garp, Irving has produced eight long novels, all of them bestsellers, and has become one of the best known authors in America, famous for his comically convoluted plots, his penchant for violent fates and endless epilogues (you always know, happily, what happened next in an Irving novel)."
"I really like A Prayer for Owen Meany.  I'm just beginning the 4th chapter.  You were right, Bonnie, there should be lots of good discussion with this book."
Did you read the book?  What's the first thing that comes to mind about it?  Even 16+ years later, I can still "see" those words of Owen Meany that are WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS.  Strangest book I'd ever seen.  Distracting, in a way, that the kid was always SHOUTING IN CAPITAL LETTERS EVERY TIME HE OPENED HIS MOUTH.  And yet ... and yet ... Owen Meany was "a short kid with a squeaky voice."  Do you remember that?
Synopsis:  In the summer of 1953, during a Little League baseball game, 11-year-old Owen Meany hits a foul ball that kills his best friend's mother.  What happens to him after that fateful day makes A Prayer for Owen Meany extraordinary, terrifying, and unforgettable.
Did my Book Buddies ever discuss this book?  I don't remember. What did I think of it at the time?  I don't know, but I do know I've referred to it many times.  I posted it on a list of 1001 books you should read before you die.  I recommended it for Banned Books Week.  It was even the answer to Which book are you?, once out of four different times I took the quiz in 2007 (along with The Mists of Avalon, Anne of Green Gables, and the Dictionary).  Did I rate the book when I first read it?  I have no idea, since I did not yet have a blog and wasn't thinking along those lines.  How about now?  Based on the fact that the book and its plot are still rattling around in my memory banks, I think it deserves a 10 out of 10.

A Prayer for Owen Meany ~ by John Irving, 1989, fiction (New Hampshire), 10/10


Susan Tidwell said...

This was one of the books mentioned in The End of Your Life Book Club, so it is on my TBR list also. AND you are moving to St. Louis?

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Yes, Susan, I'm moving to St. Louis at the beginning of June, just over a week from now. Let me know what you think of A Prayer for Owen Meany.

Emily said...

I read the book and did not like the main character, Owen Meany. TO me it seemed he assumed the role of spiritual leader for his friends and expected them to follow his advice. He was overbearing and did not always have the best advice, as it turned out.