This is a post in my 50 Nifty series, in which I’m reading through 50 books that embody each of the 50 United States. Find out why I’m doing this and which books I’m reading when (so you can read along) by checking out my first 50Nifty post, or else browse all 50Nifty posts by clicking here!
A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I listened to it over the course of probably a month (it’s almost 27 hours long!!!) and while I was super annoyed at Owen Meany’s (admittedly) weird-sounding voice at the beginning, it kind of grew on me by the end. (Irving makes a point to describe Owen’s high-pitched shrill voice several times, and it’s a theme throughout the book. Evidently in the print version, all of Meany’s words are capitalized, which I think would make me feel as if he were shouting, so I’m glad I only found that out after I’d finished it.) The novel is narrated by Owen’s best friend from childhood, a friend whose mother Meany accidentally killed with a foul ball during a little league game when the boys were 11. Despite this tragedy, the pair remains friends for many years, and this book tells the extraordinary circumstances of Meany’s life, whether sad, hilarious, or straight-up unbelievable.
As New Hampshire’s 50Nifty book, it’s an excellent choice. There’s much about the land and the people and their sensibilities, and I felt as though I’d recognize New Hampshire if I happened across it (although I’ve never been in real life). Owen Meany’s family owns a granite quarry, which New Hampshire is famous for,* which adds to the authenticity and the importance of the setting.
*Side note: because I was reading this book while visiting my sister and her family, I impressed my niece with my knowledge (okay, guess) that New Hampshire was the state also known as the Granite State. See? I am learning something with this project!