A prayer for Owen Meany

(69 Posts)
qo Wed 12-Sep-12 12:50:15

I'm halfway through so no spoilers please grin

I am really struggling with this book, it's sooo boring that I can only manage a few pages at a time, every little point is dragged out and a lot of it seems meaningless to the story. I want to finish it, as it's regarded as a modern classic, and that the book only comes together at the end.

Please tell me if it's worth perservering with?

Portofino Wed 12-Sep-12 12:58:36

It is one of my all time faves - so yes I would say it worse persevering with.

Viperidae Wed 12-Sep-12 12:59:45

Yes, second that. I loved this book, I agree it is slow in parts but well worth persevering.

qo Wed 12-Sep-12 13:01:55

It is starting to pick up a bit with a lot more of John's present day/adult life creeping in but still isn't holding my interest at all.

I will perservere, but at this rate it's going to take me a year to finish it!

iwantavuvezela Wed 12-Sep-12 13:05:05

One of my all time favourite books too. Loved it!

qo Wed 12-Sep-12 13:05:48

Did nobody else find it a struggle and a little boring to read then?

crikeybill Wed 12-Sep-12 15:17:04

I didnt. I loved it, just loved it !!
Def up there with my all time faves grin

CaptainHoratioWragge Wed 12-Sep-12 15:18:35

Sorry to add to your annoyance, OP, but this is also one of my all time favourites. I've read it about 5 times.

qo Wed 12-Sep-12 15:28:00

oh, I just like my books to be un-put-down-able, to me Owen Meany is very put-down-able grin

Portofino Wed 12-Sep-12 18:15:46

And when you read the ending, you will HAVE to read it again ;-)

One of my favorites too. Please persevere. It's so worth it.

I found it awful. Absolutely mind-numbingly boring. I finished it but almost lost the will to live. This was only recently.

I don't know what people are getting out of this book but I guess we are all different.

I would say give up - life's too short smile

And you will LOVE the ending because the book is finally over...

JennetDevice Wed 12-Sep-12 18:38:41

Is this the first John Irving book you`ve tried? Maybe try The World According to Garp to get a feel for his writing. Then go back to Owen. It`s also one of my favourite books and I agree with everyone else, please persevere.

I really think the 300 pages or so he spent describing the nativity was far too little. I really wanted MORE detail. I wanted to know what people had for breakfast and want time they went to sleep grin

Sorry John Irving fans, being wicked!

minceorotherwise Wed 12-Sep-12 18:41:03

Ooh my fave book of all time
Agree it may have been bett to read Garp first

toysoldiers Wed 12-Sep-12 18:41:38

It's my favourite book, closely followed by Hotel New Hampshire.

I think you probably either like John Irving or you don't. But Owen is one of the few books to have a lasting effect on me.

Stick with it. grin

sayanythingrogerjustrogerme Wed 12-Sep-12 18:42:26

Loved it, read it about 10 times. So another vote for persevering, sorry!

rasputin Wed 12-Sep-12 18:44:04

oh what was the John Irving book called about the artist whose wife had left him after the death of their two sons and they had a daughter after the boys died, who was also left? Wife took all the pictures...

I found that book very vivid, I can still remember so many scenes, but not the title alas!

Minstrelsaremarvellous Wed 12-Sep-12 18:45:34

Worth persevering. I've only read it once but it really sticks with me. It's worth it.

qo Wed 12-Sep-12 18:49:54

I really think the 300 pages or so he spent describing the nativity was far too little. I really wanted MORE detail. I wanted to know what people had for breakfast and want time they went to sleep

hahaha [grin} This ^^ describes excatly how I feel about the book, every point so laboured it's excruciating, I've found myself skipping bits.

I actually just tried to read a bit more when I was in the bath and accidentally dropped it in - maybe it's a sign!

JennetDevice Wed 12-Sep-12 18:59:31

rasputin It`s A Widow for One Year. There is a film of this book called The Door in the Floor.

CaptainHoratioWragge Wed 12-Sep-12 20:21:48

Oh my goodness the nativity scene
I can remember nearly wetting myself I was laughing so hard the first time I read it with Owen playing Baby Jesus and forcing Mary to bow to him
I think i'm going to have to read it again...

It isn't really worth carrying on tbh. There is the so-called 'incredible' ending but it's pretty obvious where it's going and it takes a very, very long time to get there. It is tedious and over-written and pretty boring for the most part. Seriously over-rated. I liked the car scene but the rest of it really, really bored and annoyed me.

Burn it.

TheFarSide Wed 12-Sep-12 21:39:38

My all time favourite book, but if you don't like it so far it's not likely to improve for you. I think it's a book about characters and relationships rather than lots of action - if you like action, then you are going to find it boring.

PanofOlympus Wed 12-Sep-12 21:50:56

Oh Owen Meany isn't a speed read. It isn't a book to 'achieve' reading it at all.
It's a lot like George Eliot books, or Jane Austen.

We have been almost 'trained' to devour plot, action, progressive narrative, critical analysis of characters..without comprehending the poetry and detail of the writing and the ideas ( that are really challenging) and appreciating the subtle connections. All of these things are the basis of what makes British writing what it is.
To fast-read OM, and to not put it down every few pages and consider what has been written means, unfortunately it will remain unsatisfying to you.
Don't read it when you are tired, or pre-occupied. Then it will be lost on you and be a waste of your time.


Greythorne Wed 12-Sep-12 21:52:59

I loathed it.
Took it on holiday with me and it nearly ruined my holiday as there was nothing else to read.
so tedious. And trying to be clever. AND ALL THOSE INANE UPPER CASE LETTERS WHEN OWEN IS TALKING. Just why?

Put it down and walk away.

PanofOlympus Wed 12-Sep-12 21:56:29

<yes of course Irving was American, but in the same way as Henry James, the inspiration and 'guides' in their art were English literature classics.>

PanofOlympus Wed 12-Sep-12 21:58:19

tbh, Greythorne, I don't think Irving was trying to be clever.

NellyJob Wed 12-Sep-12 21:59:33

over - rated IMO

PuffPants Wed 12-Sep-12 22:00:01

I loved it, was very moved by it, one of those books that stays with you for a long time.

It is a strange book, no doubt, but well worth preserving with.

PuffPants Wed 12-Sep-12 22:00:32

Or even persevering...

Greythorne Wed 12-Sep-12 22:01:45

Oh, I disagree. The endless, endless foreshadowing of the big reveal is so try hard!

OvO Wed 12-Sep-12 22:04:37

I read about 50 pages then put it down and have never gone back to it. I rarely give up on a book but just couldn't push on this time. I wonder if I still have it? Might give it one more try. Years have passed and my tastes have changed.

SwedishEdith Wed 12-Sep-12 22:11:52

I gave upon this when I tried it years ago. keep reading about it being so many people's favourite book that I feel I ought to try again. But you've just reminded me, OP, of how deeply tedious it was. Thanks. grin

snigger Thu 13-Sep-12 12:34:44

It is my all time favourite book, but I would say don't persevere if it hasn't grabbed you yet - from people I've pushed this book on in the past with almost zealous fervour, the ones that 'got it' got it right away and emerged two days later having not eaten or showered, and the ones that didn't were dead to me from that point on were never likely to.

I agree that he's trying to be clever. He labours away for zillions of pages to reach the great denouement and by the end all I could really think was, 'Well thank God that's all over' so it lost just about all of its emotional impact. And all the sex with the freaky cousin person just bored the hell out of me too.

It was good on the radio. Perhaps they abridged it a bit smile

Oblomov Fri 14-Sep-12 09:06:52

I found it slow and hard. But when you get to the ending, it suddenly all makes sense. Then, you look at the whole book in a different light, and realise, that it really is amazing.

tumbletumble Sat 15-Sep-12 09:00:55

I'm with you, OP. I am halfway through and struggling! I rarely give up on a book so I hope to finish it sometime, must admit I have left it for the moment though.

qo Sat 15-Sep-12 09:35:31

Tumble, I am only reading it in the bath at the moment, and am reading a different book at other times - I aim to finish it but it's going to take some time grin

halfnhalf Sat 15-Sep-12 23:01:13

so glad to read this thread. we're doing it for book group and i've got about 100 pages in. I'm finding it v. difficult to pick up.

bissydissy Sat 22-Sep-12 02:41:00

I do wonder when every one read it? I think it might be one of those books you go back to and feel dissapointed with? I adored John Irvine in my late teens/early 20s but am not sure I've the patience or the spare emotions now. It was the fecking wrestling that got me in the end. Can't remember which book it was but I couldn't take any more wrestling.

nooka Sat 22-Sep-12 02:53:17

I loved Owen Meany, but if you've not been sucked in by now it might just not be your sort of book. For me it was a total page turner, I think I read it in just under a week. I've read it a couple of times since then and if anything it packed more of an emotional punch on the re-read.

My favourite John Irving, although I really enjoyed Until I Find You as well.

nooka Sat 22-Sep-12 02:54:08

Oh, and I read it first in my early 20s, and last in my late 30s.

hackmum Sat 22-Sep-12 13:09:17

I read it years ago and loved it at the time - for a while John Irving was my favourite writer (though not any more). I think the capital letters take a bit of getting used to, but the story was gripping and the ending made everything else fall into place.

Each to their own, I guess:-)

Nigglenaggle Sat 22-Sep-12 17:35:31

I have read three of his books now and the only one I really enjoyed was Hotel New Hampshire (although so sad!) Took me ages to read all three. The ending to a Prayer for Owen Meany annoyed me because it was so so stupid. Pointless. Getting Angry Just Thinking About It. Hehe let us know what you think if you finish it

FancyBread Sat 22-Sep-12 17:48:43

I really enjoyed this book. I found it an easy read which, considering I have the attention span of your average toddler, is saying something.
I enjoyed most it not all of his books.

Loved this book when I finished it but I always seem to struggle with John Irving books...have had Hotel New Hampshire on the go for years now!

ggirl Sat 22-Sep-12 20:45:46

I managed about 2/3s and lost the will to live.

LauraPashley Sat 22-Sep-12 20:50:05

I think a widow for one year was my favorite? But agree with whoever says it depends when you read it- I LOVED them late teens/early 20s. Re-read lots of them when living in new england and loved them again. Now I dont feel like I have the time for his ramblings?!! Is cider house rules John irvine too? That was fab.

Booboostoo Sat 22-Sep-12 21:17:51

One of my all time favourite books...but if you don't like it read something else, there's no obligation to finish a book you don't like and if you don't like it now the ending is not going to affect you either way.

AlmostAGoldHipster Sat 22-Sep-12 21:23:52

Isn't it funny how some of us adore this book and some hate it? It is my favourite book of all time - I fell in love with Owen years ago. It's the only book I've ever read that's made me want to believe in God. Very moving.

Nigglenaggle Sun 23-Sep-12 07:37:32

But...but.... oh OP please finish reading so can add spoilers heehee

MurielTheActor Mon 24-Sep-12 10:51:43

Signing up for the Owen Meaney fan Club grin
I do think, though, that you have to love John Irving, or even just get him, to enjoy it.
The ending is seriously haunting - so if you want to be haunted, stay with it.
However, I would have to say that my fave John Irving is The Cider House Rules.

StarLane Mon 24-Sep-12 13:33:04

A Prayer for Owen Meany has to be in my top 10. Don't forget your hanky!

Hmm - not sure - I am a big Irving fan but Owen Meany is not my favourite.

Should I re read it?

qo Mon 24-Sep-12 15:21:53

I've just ordered a visit from the goon squad, I can see poor Owen getting shelved for a bit longer!

gillythekid Mon 15-Oct-12 22:02:24

I read this book about 5 years ago and I remember laughing out loud on more than one occasion. I was never bored reading it, although I struggled with Until I Find You. On the whole, I find Irving to be a really engaging writer.

MadameCoco Mon 15-Oct-12 22:19:19

OP, I posted an almost identical message on here about this book a few years ago. I started it after I had heard/read rave reviews about it but really wish I hadn't bothered. I found the haphazard chronology INFURIATING - one minute the mother is dead, then she's alive, then she's dead again. I had no empathy with any of the characters and really didn't care how it all worked out for them (this is most unusual for me).
It took me months to read it and I was so RELIEVED when I finally reached the end. I say abandon it - life's too short and there are so many better books out there.

KeithLeMonde Tue 16-Oct-12 18:15:38

The ending absolutely blew my mind, but I was about 15 when I read it and haven't re-read it since, so I don't know whether it would stand up to a more mature reading. I really didn't like World According to Garp but have enjoyed other of Irving's books (Widow for One Year sticks in my mind).

Roark Wed 17-Oct-12 10:53:55

It's a great pro-religion story, without forcing the ideas of faith and destiny down your throat. The characters are brilliant; Owen in particular is strange, pitiful, frightening yet funny, lovely and bizarrely cool.

It's desperately sad, too, as Owen's story gathers pace as he grows up, the narrator drops just enough details of the lives of those in Owen's shadow, including his own.

And I loved the tiny, deadpan throwaway humour that peppers almost every page .. it's just lovely.

iseenodust Wed 17-Oct-12 11:13:12

I'm with you OP. It was slow, I didn't warm to the characters and frankly it was just all too contrived. I read it to the end as it was a bookclub choice but I've no intention of seeking out more Irving.

valiumredhead Wed 17-Oct-12 13:08:36

I am with you too OP - I have really tried on numerous occasions to get into this book and failed every time!

XiCi Sat 20-Oct-12 18:42:06

I loved it. Agree that the ending just blows you away, I think I actually sat and sobbed yet the book is also incredibly funny in parts. Its one of those books that stays with you long after youve read it.

It seems to be one of those books that people either love or hate. Id have happily just turned back to the front and started reading it again as soon as Id finished it.

tipp2chicago Sat 20-Oct-12 18:51:44

I read this when I was 18, and have read it, on average, every two years since. I seem to remember having trouble finishing it the first time, but it turned me into a huge Irving fan, though I do find some of his earlier stuff fairly experimental. Mind you, I'm having trouble with the most recent one, but I'm hoping to get back to it soon.

shyandquiet Thu 25-Oct-12 23:59:07

I thought it was rubbish. Slow. I just didn't get the message. If there was one.

BumgrapesofWrath Fri 26-Oct-12 09:22:49

Persevere OP! Took me several attempts to read it, but it was honestly worth it. The ending is amazing... I haven't read a book as good as this since.

moonblushtomato Fri 26-Oct-12 21:01:22

I second Cider House Rules as being perfection, wonderful wonderful book smile

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