This year, I’m counting down the 12 books I most enjoyed during 2015. As always, they’re books I read this year but they were not necessarily published this year. But books never go out of fashion so let’s not worry about that.
A Prayer for Owen Meany is a classic. John Irving is a literary legend. So I’m a little ashamed to admit that I hadn’t read the book, or indeed any Irving novels, until this year. I’m especially ashamed now that I know how very good Owen Meany is.
The novel is essentially a coming of age story but its precocious protagonist is so extraordinary that it is really much more than this. Owen Meany – bullied by his schoolmates for his diminutive build and strange voice – hits and kills the mother of his best (and only) friend with a baseball. In coming to terms with the event and its aftermath, he comes to the only logical conclusion: that he is God’s instrument.
The events that follow are far reaching – to Vietnam and back – sometimes deadly serious and, in parts, hilarious. I particularly loved Irving’s method of writing Meany’s voice, in ALL CAPS throughout. I heard that strange voice.
Which should be my next Irving novel?