A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of my favorite books, ever. John Irving is not one of my favorite authors overall; I find him pretty hit-or-miss. But even his worst books (158-Pound Marriage, I'm looking at you) often strike a chord with me; they often take place in New Hampshire, in and around worlds I know well.
I bought Cider House Rules when I was home here for my grandfather's funeral, late one year in the early 1990s, and read it as my main escape that weekend. And when I got back to school, I missed it, and bought Owen Meany, which was even better. It's a sentimental thing for me, but it's also just a beautifully crafted book, which I very much recommend.
I loaned my copy out to a good friend who was having a hard time a few years ago, and was pleased that she liked it enough to read it — that it resonated with her, too. I don't see her a lot any more, but the last time I saw her, this fall, she asked if I wanted it back, and I was surprised to find that I didn't. That is, I love the book, and want to have a copy, but I wanted her to have that copy. I loved that it was doing someone else some good.
Flash forward to a few weeks ago, when an on-campus group was having a book sale for a good cause, and the first book my eye lit on was a copy of Owen Meany, tattered in almost exactly the way mine was. I handed over my fifty cents and was happy to have it, but didn't look inside.
Until this week, that is. I was in a nostalgic mood, and there are a couple of eerie, sweet, Christmasy chapters that bring me back to late one year in the early 1990s, so I skimmed them.
And then I flipped to the end — no reason not to, because I know how it ends.
And this is what I found there:
I don't know what "better" means in this context, so I can't agree with it, quite. But it made me smile.