A Prayer for Owen Meany LP

( 2 )

Overview

I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest personI ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother'sdeath, but because he is the reason I believe in God;I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.

In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend,New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills theother boy's mother. The boy ...

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Overview

I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest personI ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother'sdeath, but because he is the reason I believe in God;I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.

In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend,New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills theother boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe inaccidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. Whathappens to Owen, after that 1953 foul ball, is extraordinary.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062205575
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/3/2012
  • Edition description: Larger Pri
  • Pages: 1152
  • Sales rank: 186,267
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

John Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times—winning in 1980 for the novel The World According to Garp. In 1992, Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He won the 2000 Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules. In 2001, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Irving's most recent novel is In One Person (2012).

Biography

It was as a struggling, withdrawn student at Phillips Exeter, the New Hampshire prep school where his stepfather taught Russian history, that John Irving discovered the two great loves of his life: writing and wrestling. Modestly, he attributes his success in both endeavors to dogged perseverance. "My life in wrestling was one-eighth talent and seven-eighths discipline," he confessed in his 1996 mini-memoir The Imaginary Girlfriend. "I believe that my life as a writer consists of one-eighth talent and seven-eighths discipline, too."

Certainly, patience and stamina have served Irving well -- in both wrestling (he competed until he was 34, coached well into his 40s, and was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1992) and writing. His first book, Setting Free the Bears, was published in 1968 to respectable reviews but sold poorly. Over the course of the next ten years, he wrote two more unsuccessful novels (The Water-Method Man and The 158-Pound Marriage).

Then, in 1978, Irving hit the jackpot with The World According to Garp, a freewheeling comic saga incorporating motifs he would revisit many times over -- feminism, adultery, violence, grotesquerie, and an overriding sense of impending doom. Garp received a National Book Award nomination and became an instant cult classic. It also paved the way for a string of bestsellers, including The Hotel New Hampshire, The Cider House Rules, A Prayer for Owen Meaney, and The Fourth Hand, to name a few.

While none of his novels are strictly autobiographical, Irving has never denied that certain elements from his life have seeped into his books, most notably the pervading "presence" of his biological father, John Wallace Blunt, a man Irving never knew. Raised by his mother and a stepfather he loved dearly, Irving had denied for years any curiosity about his absent parent, but the figure of the missing father haunted his writing like a specter. In 2005, he laid the ghost to rest with the publication of Until I Find You, a searing story that took shape slowly and painfully over the better part of a decade. Writing the novel also allowed the author to wrestle with a closely guarded secret from his past -- just like the novel's protagonist Jack Burns, Irving was sexually abused as a preteen by an older woman. In an eerily timed coincidence, while he was crafting the novel, Irving was contacted by a man named Chris Blunt, who identified himself as the son of Irving's biological father. Twenty years younger than Irving, his half-brother told Irving that their father had died in 1995. Although Irving was devastated by the experience, he now feels as if he is able to turn the page and move on.

In addition to his novels, Irving has also written a collection of short stories and essays (1995's Trying to Save Piggy Sneed) and several screenplays, including his Oscar-winning adaptation of The Cider House Rules. He chronicled the experience of bringing his novel to the screen in the 1999 memoir My Movie Business.

Good To Know

  • Irving struggled in school with a learning disability that was probably undiagnosed dyslexia. Today, he considers it something of a blessing. Forced to read slowly, he savored each word and literally fell in love with language and literature.

  • In a 2001 interview with the now-defunct Book magazine, Irving confessed, "The characters in my novels, from the very first one, are always on some quixotic effort of attempting to control something that is uncontrollable -- some element of the world that is essentially random and out of control."

  • Although the results have been mixed at best, film versions have been made of several Irving novels, including The World According to Garp, The Hotel New Hampshire, and The Cider House Rules, which won for Irving a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. In addition, the movie Simon Birch was loosely based on A Prayer for Owen Meaney, and the first third of Irving's novel A Widow for One Year became the acclaimed film The Door in the Floor.

  • One of Irving's great literary influences was Kurt Vonnegut, his teacher and mentor at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. The two writers remained close friends until Vonnegut's death in 2007.

  • Irving has two tattoos: a maple leaf (in honor of his Canadian wife) on his left shoulder, and the starting circle of a wrestling match on his right forearm.

  • The influence of Charles Dickens is evident in Irving's novels, sprawling epics with huge casts of colorful, eccentric characters and lots of complex plot points that crop up, disappear for hundreds of pages, then resurface unexpectedly. He writes voluminously and in great detail; he refuses to use a computer; and he begins at the end, writing the last sentence of each novel first. He describes himself as a craftsman and claims that he owes his success more to rewrites, ruthless editing, and infinite patience than to artistic genius.

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      1. Also Known As:
        John Wallace Blunt, Jr.
      2. Hometown:
        Vermont
      1. Date of Birth:
        March 2, 1942
      2. Place of Birth:
        Exeter, New Hampshire
      1. Education:
        B.A., University of New Hampshire, 1965; also studied at University of Vienna; M.F.A., Iowa Writers' Workshop, 1967

    Customer Reviews

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    Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
    • Posted April 3, 2012

      more from this reviewer

      A beautifully crafted coming of age story of two boys with a pur

      A beautifully crafted coming of age story of two boys with a purpose!

      Owen Meany was an unusual boy at least that is how his friends would refer to him. Growing up, he had some disadvantages that others didn't. For one, his voice. Those who heard him would often say his voice could easily get on your nerves. It was child-like, soft and sounded like a cartoon character. In fact it could be said you could tell it was Owen talking just by the sound of his voice. Because it was so low, you either had to be close enough to hear it or ask him to speak louder, and that is exactly what Johnny Wheelwright, his best friend would ask him to do.

      Johnny had Owen's voice down pat, and could imitate him if the need should arise, such as reminding his grandmother who Owen was. Being nearly 100 years old, the only way she could remember was when Johnny imitated Owen's voice. Then she would cover her ears and acknowledge that yes, she did remember who he was.

      Another disadvantage poor Owen had was he was very small in stature. So small and so lightweight that in school whenever the teacher stepped out of the room, his classmates would take turns lifting him high over their heads and pass him around the class. This, Owen did not like. His change would fall out of his pockets, baseball cards meticulously sorted would become mixed up, and even though they would give everything back to him, he was not happy. In fact, anyone who met Owen, had a desire to pick him up, even parents.

      Yet one fateful day would change forever how people perceived Owen and it would change how Johnny viewed God. That would be the day when Owen Meany hit a baseball and killed Johnny's mom.

      In the latest novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, the reader is taken back to 1953 with a unique accident would forever change the lives of Johnny Wheelwright and Owen Meany and take them on a journey through their lives. What happens through this unique blend of storytelling in its finest is that Owen sees God in everything, big and small. Even the accident of Johnny's mother who Owen loved dearly is defined by Owen. In fact by the time you get to the end, you, the reader will realize that God is present in so many ways throughout, and you will get one of those "Ah ha!" moments at the end.

      I received this book compliments of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers for my honest review and LOVED this one! If you loved The Cider House Rules or The World According to Garp, then you will love this one as well since John Irving is also the author of those literary masterpieces. From the first sentence until the last, John masterfully crafts this story to engage the reader and become an advocate for Owen throughout the whole novel. While it hurts to see him picked on in so many ways growing up, you can see that God uses everything that happens in our lives for good and this is Owen's story of how that happens. I highly recommend this book to those who are looking for a great feel good book with purpose and John delivers! I rate this one a 5 out of 5 stars.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted December 11, 2013

      Very good story and a very easy read

      Great reading in the large print edition (LP). You can relate to many of the situations in the story.

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