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am 7. Juni 2000
There are some 800+ reviews of this book, and if you just casually glance at them, you'll note that this is the best novel ever written. Not the best of the 20th century, or the best American book, or the greatest prep-school based book, or anything else - it's just the best book ever written.
I was hounded into reading A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY. My ex-wife kept telling me to read it, that I would love it - this is when we'd already been divorced for 2 years. Finally, she sent me a post card asking me if I'd read it yet, and closed with the line, "You are my Owen Meany." I had to know what she meant, exactly, so I bought a copy and read it. Before I even finished, I knew what she said was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me.
Don't get hounded into reading this book - simply go to every bookstore you have to go to until you find a copy, then buy it, head straight home, take your phone off the hook and start reading. Soon, you'll be hounding others into reading this wonderful, beautiful masterpiece.
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am 5. Februar 2005
I've read this book because I read "Widow for one year", which I loved. I'm not sure whether I still would have read it had I recognized the "A Prayer" in the title earlier. I am an atheist, a convinced one. And I don't like people nor literature that want to turn me into a religious being. But this book is not intrusive or pushy in its religiousness. Like "Widow for one year", it's a pleasure to read it - not too simple, not too difficult, intelligent but fluent. To me, John Irving is a master of creating literature, that, although not packed with action at all, never gets boring and that just becomes ONE when the last word is read. His works are SO coherent, each of it is just SUCH a unity. This makes his works so convincing and believable to me, even if my world is totally different from the world of his characters.
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„A prayer for Owen Meany" wird von vielen Lesern und Kritikern als der beste Roman von John Irving betrachtet.
Die Geschichte von Owen wird uns von seinem Freund John Wheelwright erzählt. Owen ist kleinwüchsig und hat eine fürchterliche Stimme. Im Alter von 11 Jahren stirbt Johns Mutter, da sie von einem Baseball am Kopf getroffen wird, der von Owen geschlagen wurde. Seit diesem Tag ist Owen davon überzeugt, dass er ein Instrument Gottes ist, dessen Leben auf ein bestimmtes Ziel ausgerichtet ist.
Um es ganz deutlich zu sagen: ICH MAG OWEN MEANY NICHT! Er ist ein abgehobener, arroganter, fanatischer, intoleranter und größenwahnsinniger Besserwisser, der anders denkende Menschen nicht ausstehen kann und ständig mit Bibelzitaten um sich schmeißt.
Es sind diese unterschiedlichen Reaktionen auf Owen Meany, die die Klasse des Romans ausmachen. Man kann ihn lieben, hassen, bemitleiden oder belächeln. Gleichgültig kann man auf ihn und seine Geschichte jedoch nicht reagieren.
Genauso spannend ist der Lebensweg des Erzählers, der im Hintergrund erzählt wird. John ist nach Kanada ausgewandert und kommentiert von dort aus das merkwürdige Verhalten seiner Landsleute vom Vietnamkrieg bis zur Ära von Ronald Reagan. Doch das Schicksal von Owen Meany bestimmt auch hier noch sein Leben.
Fazit: Ein Klassiker der Neuzeit, ein Roman, der keinen kalt lässt. Literature at its best!
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am 10. Dezember 2002
This is maybe John Irving's Opus Magnum. It is a wonderful book, but above that it's true literature as good as it gets. This book belongs among the works of any "acknowledged" high-end literature - it's level with Dostoyevskij or Auster or Garcia Marquez. It is not a "funny" book - for that, it's much too philosophic, deeply touches too many fundamental things about religion and the ways how people live with or alongside each others. But it's highly emotional nevertheless: after the ultimate page, I had tears in my eyes, and even as I write this I'm still moved when I remember the ultimate phrases of the book - the Prayer for Owen Meany.
However, though this is is such a grand book, my favourite Irving is another one: A Son of the Circus. Owen Meany is a masterpiece, but no easy read, and not soothing. For the reader, it's hard to identify with one of the characters - every character is difficult, strange, full of idiosyncrasies, as always in Irving's books. By comparison, Son of the Circus is warmer, less sophisticated, friendlier, more charming - and these are qualities I like in storytelling.
But still, there's no doubt about one thing: A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of the Great Books Of Contemporary American Literature, and it will make you think, laugh and cry.
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am 25. April 2000
I would not recommend this book to anyone that doesn't have the patience or gets bored easily! It takes lots of time and patience to eventually appreciate this over lengthed book. You just sit reading and waiting for the writer to get to the point or even to the plot. It never really specified a direct plot. Is the story more "Who is Johnny's father?" or "Why is it Owen is not so normal?". This book leads you into many different what if's and why questions. The author makes you read way too much into the stupid little things. (The authors non-stop repeating himself over and over again about things that pretain nothing to the direct story.) I get really annoyed with the never ending talk of religion. The author has the character tell about everylittle thing about every damn things he learned and could rememeber about religion. He side tracks so much, that I think he could have left out the 300 pages to much that would have left this incredibly long story, sweet and to the point. I did enjoy the basic plot of this story with its unusual characters and exceptional heroism. Owen Meany, the main character, goes through so many changes physically, mentally, and spiritually that I admired what he over came in his inner and outter struggles with what's his meaning really is here on earth.
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am 5. Juli 2000
I have been an avid and not very discriminatory reader for over 40 years, however, I recently discovered John Irving and finally read 'Owen Meany' and wish I'd done so years ago. After finishing the book I wept buckets, both for Owen, and for the fact that I'd finished the book.I literally couldn't sleep, I was so upset. Owen is a pint-sized person with a heart the size of a mountain. You know Owen's not going to live a long life due to the fore-shadowing that Irving uses,to such good effect, but the way that he ties up everything in the last few pages is nothing short of miraculous. The book makes you question your religious faith (or lack of it). Owen never has any doubts, but he never comes across as a religious nut; he just knows he has a great purpose in life and he works towards it even though all his friends think he is crazy. Symbolism and allegory are rife in this book, but apart from all that, IT'S A GREAT READ. And by the way, all those who don't like the politics? Tough. I happen to agree with everything John Irving wrote in the book.
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am 16. Oktober 1998
Yes, strange enough this book seems to be in the picture thanks to a movie that isn't out in my country yet. I hear bad things about the movie... But let us wait until Lasse Halstrom's "The Cider House Rules" coms out where John Irving wrote the script as well. Owen Meany my dear friends is without any doubt one of the best books you'll ever read. This story is so enormously absorbing that you must have a heart of stone and air for brains if you don't like this. This is GOURMET writing !!! It is funny, hard sometimes but always so close to any reader who likes to loose himself in a book. Jesus, words of critics don't mean anything, but please mr. Nobel when will Mr. Irving get his prize ? PURE POETRY . AN ALLTIME CLASSIC I HAVE READ OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN... A SPECIAL PLACE SHOULD BE KEPT IN ANY COLLECTION FOR THIS MARVELOUS STORY OF INNOCENCE. AGAIN, THANKS, A MILLION TIMES TO THE GREATEST STORYTELLER IN THE UNIVERSE MR. JOHN IRVING...
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am 21. Mai 2000
I started reading A Prayer for Owen Meany at the urging of a friend, part of our on-going reading program. She had just started the novel, and said it was funny and I would enjoy it. I never expected that it would move me so. John Irving has written a profound novel of faith, friendship, and fate.
It took me one or two sections to understand Irving's style. He likes to jump around a lot, and as the story is written as a memoir, that is certainly understandable. But Johnny Wheelwright (the narrative voice of the story) wants to tell us too much, too fast, and it doesn't all make sense at first. Only one thing is clear from the beginning: Owen Meany is destined to change Johnny's life.
Owen and Johnny are friends in New Hampshire in the 1950s. They have a unique bond which due in part to Owen's extraordinary presence. The dwarfed child has a strange voice that chills most people (including Johnny's grandmother), but he also has an adult-like wisdom and understanding. The bond between Owen and Johnny is sealed by a freak accident when Owen hits a baseball, killing Johnny's mother.
As they grow up, it becomes clear to Johnny that Owen thinks he is guided by God. The accident with Johnny's mother is just one incident that ultimately will lead Johnny to find his own faith.
There are moments of biting humor in the novel as well as moments of sadness. Although the majority of the story centers on Johnny's childhood, it continues through his high school and college years. As expected for the setting, Kennedy and the Vietnam War become important themes throughout the story.
There are also moments when Johnny -- writing the novel in 1987 -- steps out of character to tell the reader in a diary-like fashion about his life in the present as a teacher. These "present day" episodes were the only thing about the novel I didn't like. Irving seems to be using the novel to criticize American politics (certainly a theme throughout the novel), but it never quite fits with the main plot, that of Owen and his influence on Johnny. I think the story would have been less bitter - and certainly shorter - if Irving had left out this editorializing.
I will always remember the stunning foreshadowing of the novel and the beautiful imagery that Irving writes. The story not only challenged me on an intellectual basis, but also on a spiritual one.
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Sometime in early 1993, when I was 14 years old, a friend of my parents had gave me a hardback copy of "A Prayer For Owen Meany" telling me, simply, "I think you'll like this." I shrugged, thanked her and it sat on the coffee table for a few months. That June, when we took a long road trip to Ottawa one weekend, I brought the book along with me simply to have something to distract me while spending about 10 hours in a van that weekend. It didn't take long until I was fully engrossed in the book. I spent much of the 5 hours en route to Ottawa reading, another couple hours that night in the hotel room and there were very few moments during our entire stay in Canada's capital that weekend that I didn't spend in the grips of "Owen Meany." I didn't understand a lot of the religious and political content at the time but I didn't have to. This story had engrossed me so much that it didn't concern me very much that I didn't understand the significance of everything.
I'm recounting these minor events so meticulously because I think that this weekend changed my life in a rather significant way: This is when I learned just how powerful and effective art can be. To many of us, books are just something we busy ourselves with while on a long flight or are forced to read for classes; movies are just something we go to so we can see explosions, animatronic dinosaurs terrorizing a cast of extras, Sharon Stone in soft core sex scenes or Jim Carrey talking - literally - out of his a**; and music is just something we dance to mindlessly or hear in the backgrounds of beer commercials and movie trailers. Literature, film and music fulfill all of these occupations but they can be - and are - so much more as well. Mindless distraction is quite welcome at times but art can also move us, influence us or cause us to reflect on our own lives and it's this that keeps me reading as many books as I can cram into my schedule, going to the movies at least once a week and buying just as many albums than my budget can seriously afford. And the turning point in my experience with art is, of course, "Owen Meany."
Almost exactly 6 years after reading "Owen," I decided to go against my usual policy of not rereading books (a time saving measure) and revisit what I'd been declaring my favorite novel of all time ever since the first reading. Two things influenced my decision. One, I saw Mark Steven Johnson's hideously misguided film adaptation (with the title changed to "Simon Birch" after Irving took as many measures as possible to disassociate the book from the movie) and needed to get the awful feeling of seeing the novel trashed on celluloid out of my head and two, I'd felt that I had changed enough in the past 6 years (well, hopefully) that the experience of "Owen Meany" could be different this time around.
In some ways, it was. I didn't feel the impact of the novel quite as powerfully this time around, but how could I? I can never again be surprised by the plots many twists and revelations as I was the first time through. Not everything is quite the way I remember it. Several minor events in the book that seemed poignant at the time had long since faded from my memory. Owen is still a compelling character but I would hardly describe him as likeable, which is somewhat contrary to how I reacted toward him the first time. I'm not as haunted by some of the books more disturbing images as I was when I was 14. Hester (the Molester) is no longer the quintessential female sex symbol that she was to me at the time, though I consider it an advancement that I'm more attracted to much less destructive people these days. Reading "Owen Meany" this time around was not unlike attending a reunion with a group of friends (albeit a tragic, dysfunctional group of friends) I hadn't seen in years.
But people only read most books once and although there is much to be gained by reading this one multiple times, the real joy of "A Prayer For Owen Meany" comes from experiencing it for the first time, not knowing what to expect (you'll notice that I've avoided plot details this whole time) and this is an experience that would wish on as many people as possible.
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am 20. Juli 2000
I literally had to read this book; it's required for school. I've read most of Irving's works, and I have a great respect for him but for want of a better reaction word I will say I'm iffy about A Prayer for Owen Meany. I think what bothered me was how Irving foreshadowed too much... the novel's about 600+ pages and for the whole part the narrator John kept saying stuff like, "I didn't know what Owen meant until... later" and "I didn't know how correct Owen would be until... later." I definitely liked the latter half the best. But then again the last part wouldn't be that effective (or do I mean explosive?) if John didn't allude to it so much. The good news: Owen Meany is thought-provoking. You're left with a sense of wonder, of your mind frantically grappling through what it'd absorbed for the last hours and connecting it all together. I sighed "ahhhhhhhh" at the end... And I've never read a contemporary author who does humor as well as Irving. It's wry, a little sly, like Owen wanting to ask forMrs. Walker to be casted as a prostitute, or a child molester; it's not outright hilarious but effective in that I thought of the Freud-like doctor's VW in the auditorm and laughed (and this is nearly a week after I'd finished the book.) Reading Irving for me is always a double-edged sword but regardless of the reservations I have, I definitely recommend Owen Meany.
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