Life is too short for Owen Meany

owenIf you’re looking for what would be a mediocre short story but which was inexplicably drawn out into a banal 600 page novel…

Or if you’re interested in a cast of flat characters joined by one bizarre and unbelievable cross between The Brain from the Animaniacs and Yoda and that little goblin in Zelinsky’s version of Rumpelstiltskin, and who is annoying in a mind numbingly boring way…

Or if you have always wanted to read a mediocre novel that purports to deal with the theme of belief but which was written by an author who admits not having had any personal religious experience, with a resulting two-dimensional, hollow presentation that winds up not being about faith or much of anything else really…

Or if you want to find out why so many Americans don’t read books after high school because they are forced to read painfully boring examples like this one…

Have I got a book for you!  

Otherwise, do yourself a favor and skip A Prayer for Owen Meany.

One critic said A Prayer for Owen Meany was the best American novel in years.  I presume that was meant as a thinly veiled insult to all American authors past and present.  Because if the critic was serious then by all means we should read foreign fiction exclusively.  Fortunately, mankind has not yet discovered the universe in which A Prayer for Owen Meany is the best of anything, so no need to flee for the hills just yet.

I fought through 300 pages of this lackluster book.  Normally I try to drop things like this by 50 pages in, because once I go beyond that point I have a hard time accepting the sunk time cost.  However, this one was a book club selection, and I desperately wanted to finish so that I could attend book club. Plus I wanted credit for the time I had already wasted!

But I resented it. Every single moment of it. Finally, I decided that life is too short and my time is too precious to keep going.  A Prayer for Owen Meany was not expanding my understanding, teaching me anything, giving me any insight, or feeding my soul with truth and beauty.  There are so many wonderful volumes much more worthy of my time.  Hopefully my book club won’t kick me out, but I can’t bring myself to finish the selection this month.

Have you ever tried to power through a book you didn’t like, only to give up after you spent a regrettably long time on it?  What strategies do you use to avoid this sort of thing?


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5 thoughts on “Life is too short for Owen Meany

  1. This was a book club choice in my neighborhood. It was very painful to read but I did finish the book. The story does pick up it’s pace rapidly towards the end. If you choose to read the ending all the mysteries will be answered and then you can chime in during book club discussion. Only two of us actually finished the book that month. Flop.

  2. 🙂 🙂 Laughing over here because I feel the SAME way. I noticed it put me in a bad mood every time I read too! …should have given up sooner probably. Now that Lydia is in a sling for the next 4-6 weeks and needing MORE attention and assistance I just don’t have time to finish it… so you won’t be the only one at book club who set it aside. (…and didn’t find out the rest of the red dress and who’s-your-daddy story line.)
    Sarah Ronk recently posted..A book look at 2014

  3. Oh my gosh. We had to read that in high school, and yes, I read the whole thing since there were tests on it. It truly is awful, but I was inexplicably the ONLY person in my AP English class who disliked it. The teacher, my classmates, they all loved it. It was supposedly So Deep. But I thought it was trite, poorly written, and generally a waste of time. Oh well.

  4. So glad to know I’m not alone in my dislike of that book!
    I tried twice to read it, thinking the timing was just not right the first time.
    And since we all know that life is too short to read mediocre books, I do not feel bad giving it the boot. 🙂

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