21 December 2011

A Prayer for Owen Meany

I am in a book club with a group of girlfriends. We meet once a month (on average) drink wine and eat too much, and most of us usually attempt to finish a book in the between-weeks. This month our book was "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving. I had heard good things about it, and had been wanting to read it for a while. 

It was a long book. Potentially made longer by the fact that the average chapter length is 60-80 pages of small typeface. I am usually quite a quick reader, but this book was a little like running through mud. I'm sitting here, staring at the computer, trying to figure out what to say about it. 

I have mixed opinions about "A Prayer for Owen Meany". Parts of this book I really liked, but unfortunately I had to wade through a lot of long winded, and unnecessary, descriptions of things and situations that didn't appear to have anything to do with the plot. There was a lot going on, and I wasn't sure which plot lines to pay attention to and which ones were superfluous to the storyline. 

One of the major themes is faith, and Owen's unfailing belief that he is a direct instrument for God's work. Possibly one of the reason's I struggled to find the story in any way believable is that I am not religious. I felt that Owen used this belief as an excuse to get away with doing whatever the hell he wanted and offending anyone he felt like. Instead of observing manners or courtesy, he took no personal responsibility for his rudeness. I found his character self righteous, self important, and just plain irritating.

I think this is an interesting point, because a) I have friends who loved this book who aren't religious, and b) I'm sure that some of the religious opinions put forward in this book would have offended some who are. 

I did like the ending of the book. I thought it was original, and it did wrap up a few questions I had... and justified a couple of small annoyances I also had. Another thing I liked about the book was the writing. Not a whole lot to say on that point really, apart from outside of the fact that I found segments of the books boring and irrelevant, it was relatively easy to read. 

If you're looking for a book that will provoke some interesting conversations, this one will do it. Certainly kept my book club in discussion - with lots of different opinions!

Has anyone read it? Opinions? 

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