viernes, 25 de septiembre de 2009

A Prayer for Owen Meany

by John Irving

Within fifty pages of this quarry of a novel, Irving makes it clear that his story will not end cheerfully. That is, if the reader has not already gathered that from the hilariously telling name of the New Hampshire town in which it is set, Gravesend. Though this does cast a grim shadow on the book, it somehow also enhances the reader's appreciation for the narrative's lightheartedness. It is told by Johnny Wheelwright, a forty-something-year-old expatriate living in Toronto. Jumping back and forth between his experience growing up in Gravesend and his uneventful life in Canada, his story effectively implants the reader with nostalgia for a New England childhood. Central to the book is its titular character, a boy as compelling as any character fiction can offer.

Much like in The World According to Garp and The Hotel New Hampshire, two other Irving books highly recommended by TTR, we are presented with not so much a story to observe, but a world to live in and a past on which to dwell. Irving so tirelessly describes every detail of every minute character, it is almost impossible to believe he is making it all up. There is a realness to the setting and its players that makes it easy to accept the supernatural events that occur.

Ultimately, the novel offers a rewarding (and extremely funny!) meditation on predestination, the Vietnam War, and, most importantly, what it means to be and to have a best friend.

Read this book!