Friday, June 11, 2010

Book One - A Prayer For Owen Meany - Part One

I wondered at the outset how many of the list books were actually the participants' favorites and how many were books participants thought should be favorites. Sort of like you're supposed to say that you just loved The English Patient when really you couldn’t stand it. I've always felt that way about Wuthering Heights. I heard for years how romantic it is, yet when I read it I did not see Heathcliff as a romantic figure. I saw him as a man in desperate need of medication and a restraining order.

In any case, I am making my way through A Prayer For Owen Meany. I know Irving is supposed to be brilliant but I don't especially love the main character (Johnny) yet. I'm on page 140 and just recently started liking Owen Meany. First person narrators don't usually cause me any problem but the protagonist seems so... aloof, I suppose. When he explains details of traumatic events he seems to want to deny the power of his feelings about those events. I'm not certain what it is about Johnny that prevents me loving him, at least so far. There are things I like about him. He recognizes his flaws and is quite forthcoming about them. I like his view of religion; he believes but also questions and is not threatened by the beliefs of others. He evaluates people by their actions alone. So I like him but do not love him and I don't yet love this book enough to carve out significant chunks of my free time for it.

I do sometimes find that I have this problem with a male protagonist written by a male. I know the statistics say that while men primarily read books only written by men, women read books by men or women. And this has been true in my life. But the older I get the more I find that the books I enjoy the most feature female protagonists written by females. If that trend continues, I suspect I’m in trouble with this list. I hope I find some books I can love, books that are so engrossing that I have to keep reading. I even enjoy the poignant sense of loss at the end of a great book as I miss the characters that came to mean so much.

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