Here's what I wrote on LibraryThing at the end of that first pass:
I'm on page 196 of 641 and it's due back to the library. I'd like to love John Irving, but I don't. He makes me laugh out loud, which is a good reason to like an author. But in between bouts of laughter, I'm wondering where we're going and why I'm supposed to care. According to the flyleaf and all the foreshadowing, something extraordinary and terrifying is going to happen to Owen Meany. Until then, some of the segments drag on. Some of them, you think are finished and then 50 pages later you're revisiting that scene again. And then the library wants it back, so you return it, and maybe one day you'll check it out again and easily pick up right where you left off because, frankly, not much has happened.As time went by and my stack of books to read grew, I was less and less inclined to give the book another pass. But then Care asked what to read, and Owen Meany was on her list. I commented that she should read it and tell me whether it was worth finishing. Instead, she started a mini book club, with scheduled discussion days and everything. I felt my arm being twisted, though with very little effort on her part, but all my library's copies were checked out. So, I went to the bookstore and picked it up. Literally, I picked it up off the shelf . . . paged through it to page 196. REMEMBERED HOW OWEN'S VOICE GRATES ON MY BRAIN BECAUSE HE SPEAKS IN ALL CAPS. And set it down again.
I got home and got on Twitter: Went to bkstore to buy #Owenmeany. Reread a few pages & couldn't do it. Trying the library.... and I'd forgotten how Owen grated on me. I can hear his voice all too well and it's like fingernails on a chalkboard.
But the library came through for me with a copy, and I steeled my nerves against Owen's screechy voice and dove in approximately where I'd left off.
And, it wasn't so bad.
I wasn't blown away by the Big Thing that Irving kept teasing the reader with in the first 196 pages, though I hadn't predicted the specifics. Owen's fatalistic outlook combined with the ANNOYING VOICE continued to grate on me throughout the book, to the point that I had a hard time seeing past that to view him as a hero/martyr. Which probably says more about me than it does about Irving.
But Johnny, the narrator, grew on me. His story grew on me, too (including the way Owen's actions and beliefs affected him), especially as snippets of his later life put the memories into a different context.
I probably won't seek out another book by Irving, but I was glad to have finished this one. Then again, there are an awful lot of great-looking books waiting to be read on my shelf. And my desk. And my other shelf. And my other other shelf. What do you think, did I waste my time? Have you ever made a second attempt at a book that didn't work for you the first time?
This post was inspired by Becky's Weekly Geeks assignment, and by Care, Softdrink, Jessi, and Lu.