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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?

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.

KatharineClifton Thu 13-Sep-12 19:10:44

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.

MrsHelsBels74 Sat 22-Sep-12 20:42:21

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.

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