Monday, December 24, 2012

My Five-Star Bookshelf, Part Thirteen

John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany

Perhaps it's because I read it between my third and fourth years at university, when I reading a great deal about Christianity and forms of belief, that this novel was so resonant for me. The plot follows two boys, John and Owen, from their childhood to their mature lives. John is the present-day narrator, having left the United States to settle in Toronto. Owen believes he is an instrument of God, born to enact a divine purpose; while the story follows this direction, there is much else going on as well. While there are many familiar Irving-esque themes in the book, there are also some particular ideas and explorations that raise the book above Irving's earlier absurd and sometimes simply comic interests.

To be fair, I should also list The Cider House Rules as one of my five-star books, but Owen Meany reaches slightly beyond Cider House for me because of the character of Owen Meany himself. The Cider House Rules is a novel about extraordinary circumstances with a cast of unusual characters. And for that matter, I might list The Hotel New Hampshire, too, although it's not really a five-star novel despite giving me a long-standing creative motif. For me, A Prayer for Owen Meany is the story of the formation of an unusual character. If you haven't read this book and love character-driven narrative, you should really enjoy this novel.

No comments: