This was a pleasant surprise for me, in terms of John Irving, as I’d concluded I needed to give his novels quite a bit of time before “getting into them”. Not so much with this one, it had my interest before I’d reached the 50-page mark.
With around 100 pages left I got to work Monday morning after reading on the bus (as you do), opened the lokal paper’s web edition, saw a picture of Norwegian soldiers in uniform and thought “Huh? We have troops in Vietnam?”
A novel that makes me forget which century I live in? Now that’s a good sign.
It happens occasionally, but not all that frequently. I met a Norwegian who was on an exchange programme from the Norwegian army to the Swedish army in Stockholm once and my first reaction was “But I thought we were at war?”, since I was currently embroiled in the Napoleonic wars in the company of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. This confused the poor bloke no end until one of my friends told him not to worry as my madness was of the harmless sort.
But back to Owen Meany. It’s a compelling story, where you get to know increasing amounts about the end throughout which I frequently find annoying but which Irving makes work. I realised what would happen some time before it happened, but not, I think, before the author intended.