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A Prayer for Owen Meany Mass Market Paperback – 1990


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Mass Market Paperback, 1990
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345361792
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345361790
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.7 x 17.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (920 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #256,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 21 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have read many, many books, and I have never found one that I like better than Owen Meany. I have read it over and over, and I still end with the same question in mind: Did Irving know the ending when he started the book? The most minor things in the story make the ending happen when they all come together. When you first read it, how could you know that the pracice of that basketball shot could mean so much? I am sorry to hear that Irving is going to re-write his current book. I can hardly wait for every one he writes, but Owen is a the top of the list.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S Page on June 20 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The worn-out narrator lets the tempo down compared with the brilliant third-person narration of, e.g., "The Cider House Rules", but the trade-off is the emotional intensity goes up. Irving is great and this is one of his best.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 3 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am perplexed as to how anyone can give this book a five star review. The premise at the beginning is that Owen Meany's friend (who tells the story) learns faith. As a child he lacks it and at the end of the book as an adult he possesses even less. Owen has little to no faith either in his life, except for his significant purpose that does realistically in the end attach him to God and faith and purpose. But he fails to inspire Johnny onto any real faith of his own. My guess is John Irving doesn't know enough about faith to write about it convincingly. Great lengths of this novel -- and totally irrelevant to the story line -- are committed to a liberal bash of Ronald Reagan, too. If that inspires the reader, go for it. But once again I was more impressed that Irving didn't know what he was talking about. Another dislike was Irving's tendency toward perversity in every scene of action. Once or twice okay, but the barage created redundancy and detracted from some otherwise good storytelling. I was very disappointed in the quality.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ellen Shay on Dec 19 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Friends at work raved about this book. Having read other books by John Irving (Hotel New Hampshire, World According to Garp) and enjoying other books these friends had recommended, I thought it might be interesting. Irving's style wasn't exactly what I normally read, but the books of his I'd read so far certainly had interesting stories.
Unfortunately, A Prayer for Owen Meany struck me as repetitive. The same plot points were repeated several times. There were a few sections that were interesting and/or funny. I kept reading, hoping that the story would pick up, or, at least, stop repeating, but it never happened. I kept going, based on the recommendations. After reading about half of the book, I just had to stop. I decided I'd rather spend what little time I have to read recreationally reading a more interesting book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY is a fascinating book, but it won't be for everyone. Irving has indeed created an odd couple of characters: Owen Meany, the dwarfish youth with high-pitched voice of stunning self-importance that wavers between arrogance one moment and self-sacrificial lamb of God the next, and his sidekick Johnny Wheelwright, illegitimate child of a striking, freespirited woman soon killed off by a baseball Owen accidentally slams across the baseball field during a Little League game to hit its killing blow against her temple. Not that this would destroy the odd friendship of these two. Indeed, it bonds them for life.

As for Owen, he doesn't believe in accidents, especially not this one. What transpires through the remainder of the story, tracing the lives of these two from children into adulthood, is a complex weave of seeming circumstance into eventual climactic conclusion that rather neatly ties many loose threads together into a tight knot. Owen has foreseen his own death by a visionary dream, and he never doubts, at least not until the final days of his life, that this dream is the beacon guiding him home (home being, for Owen, heaven for those who would enter through the gates of martyrdom).

In the process of these two strange lives, topics of destiny and fate, religion, American politics and foreign policy, various rites of passage from childhood into adulthood, and other miscellaneous lighter and deeper issues are undertaken. These, too, all come together into the neat knot at the book's end. The only other novel that came together this way for me (and everyone else) was THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD with its equally strange characters and situations.

Irving is a quality writer.
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Format: Paperback
Irving's writing is often long on description and short on plot, but in "Owen Meany" we do get a chance to move forward and it is an enjoyable journey all the way.
"Owen Meany" is the story of an odd but heroic child who manages to have an impact in some very profound ways. His life, in the end, touches others in ways that are both concrete and abstract, but always interesting. As always, Irving's characterization is his strong-suit and here he makes us care about everyone on the page. Like life itself, his characters journey through moments of warmth, frustration, joy, humor and defeat. Their stories are always dramatic and Irving shows that he has the ability to put himself into the minds of children realistically, while never alienating his adult reader.
The themes here are not hard to find and, as such, some might consider Irving too obvious and simple to be a master of literature. But Irving redeems himself with his eloquence, his knowledge of the human condition and his evocative depiction of the environment surrounding his players.
I admit to having been turned off at times by Irving's "Cider House Rules" and "The World According to Garp", and both "Setting Free the Bears" and "Son of the Circus" moved so slowly and floridly that I have left them each unfinished twice. I hate to admit it, but both of the first two books were probably better as loosely translated movies. Owen Meany is different. It is a story which happens as much inside of a community and its characters as in any visible sense. It translated so poorly into a movie that I won't even tell you the atrocious replacement name they gave to it (although I will hint that Ashley Judd played a radiant young mother in it).
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