Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Prayer for Owen Meany, etc.

How is it that I've never read John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany? I've read other Irving, and loved most of it (I have a thing about lost limbs and Irving seems, at times, to taunt me with this), but I'd somehow missed this heartbreaking and beautiful masterpiece. And I'm only halfway through it!

I've been trolling around the website, which is how I came to discover that A Prayer for Owen Meany was one of the 1001 books I should read before I die, or something like that. There were at least a hundred books on the list that I'd never even heard of, never mind read. (did I mention I used to own a bookstore?) Sometimes I think people are making up titles. That said, there are gaps in my reading I intend to fill. What should be next? War and Peace? Virginia Wolfe? I know, I know. I'm working on it.

This past week I also polished off Deborah Crombie's Where Memories Lie. Sometimes, when you're waiting around in a hospital as I was, you need something easy on the brain, which this was. Plus, unlike a lot of literature I love, these light mysteries don't send my emotions ping-ponging all over the place. It's a solid mystery with developed characters, a sense of place, and an interesting plot. I once read an interview with Joyce Carol Oates, whom I deeply admire, in which she said she never has a wasted moment. Meaning she never watches bad TV, or reads anything fluffy. I do wish I could be that disciplined (I also wish I could resist sweets and bread) but honestly, sometimes I just need to give myself a break. Sometimes I need to watch awful TV, and read for the pure pleasure of the story, and put on the radio and dance around to songs about brushing teeth with a bottle of Jack.

Balance, I say. That's what I'm aiming for!


  1. Jenn, A Prayer for Owen Meany is may all time favorite book. I remember the day I finished it- I was sitting in the sun in the back yard of the house my sister and I were renting on Peak's Island weeping because it ended, but I think it became my favorite book when I read the opening line “I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice – not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.”
    It still makes me cry. And admirable or not, "never wasted a moment" I don't buy it!

    1. Beth! I thought of you when I picked this up, because I know how much you love John Irving, and I was thinking how I don't know how you let me get away with not reading this! I'm just happy to be reading it now!

      And, you know I love Joyce Carol Oates, but I will say I thought, when I read that interview, that maybe she needs to have a little more fun. :)

  2. WHATEVER YOU DO....don't watch the movie based on "A Prayer for Owen Meany" (Simon Birch).....wasted moments or not it will be 2 hours of your life gone that you will never get back.
    I love the book though. Its one of my favorites and my worn copy sits on my "reread' shelf. And it has been reread countless times. I discovered this book when I was in junior high (I still have that copy) and it quickly became a staple in my personal library.

    1. Thanks for the warning! I hardly ever watch movies based on books because I am inevitably disappointed (or I should say, I never watch the movie AND read the book). Although I've been wanting to see The Time Traveler's Wife because I loved the book, but I haven't found anyone who has read and seen it so I have yet to take the risk.

  3. The best story to movie adaptations I have ever seen: "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy(you might appreciate this one...although I don't know how you feel about post-apocalypse type stories). As far as conveying the author's raw emotion between a father and his young son this movie is dead on and made even a jaded, hardened guy like myself choke up. Also, if you haven't seen it yet (and I suspect you have), "O Brother Where Art Thou". Based on Homer's Odyssey. The fun of this adaptation is trying to find the similarities between Homer's characters and the Cohen brothers (directors). And I might add that the soundtrack to this movie is amazing.
    Anyway...I don't need to tell you to read the stories first...but these movies are wasted moments well worth wasting.
    ------Donkey Ote