This novel represents John Irving at his most brilliant. It's one of the funniest books I've ever read, and Owen Meany has got to be the most memorable character, ever. He seems to have his own intense logic, partly due to his belief that he is predestined by god to play some very important role. He's a very astute boy and foresees a lot of things related to the Vietnam War, the rise and influence of television, and even his own death. The story is told by Owen's best friend, John Wheelwright, and begins when the two boys are in grade school in New Hampshire, with John's mother (who has "...THE BEST BREASTS OF ALL THE MOTHERS") and his cousin "Hester the Molester" filling out the cast of strong characters. Owen has an unnaturally loud, squeaky, high voice, which is represented in the book by all capital letters. His unusually diminutive stature is offset by his very powerful presence. His proclamations never ceased to make me laugh out loud - impressive, given the serious themes in the story. This book is a masterpiece.
"THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN GET AMERICANS TO NOTICE ANYTHING IS TO TAX THEM OR DRAFT THEM OR KILL THEM." (page 382)
This is one long book. At 543 pages, it takes a few days to read. Or weeks. Now, my sister loved this book, and hounded me for years to read it, so I did just to shut her up. I'm glad I did. Owen Meany is like no other. He's diminutive, his features are unique, and he "speaks" in all-caps. Oh, and he's also God's Instrument. I enjoyed Owen's story immensely, and the other characters in this book - Johnny Wheelwright, Hester, well, there are so many. This book was my first of John Irving's, and I've read others since. I'm also pleased to own a first edition hardback copy of this book, which I found in a used bookstore in Maui. I look for his books wherever I go - am a huge fan since his writing is so entertaining and vivid.
From the infamous Nativity scene during the Christmas pageant, "The "swaddling clothes" resembled nothing so much as layers upon layers of gauze bandages, so that Owen resembled some terrifying burn victim who'd been shriveled to abnormal size in a fire that had left only his face and arms uncharred - and the "pillar of light," and the worshipful postures of all of us, surrounding him, made it appear that Owen was about to undergo some ritual unwrapping in an operating room, and we were his surgeons and nurses."