I'm back, after a little break!! My excuse for not writing these past few days will be the Deutsche Bahn, whom I can thank for having the most hellish train trip of my life. I think I would have reached home faster on foot, really... Anyway, yes, this is my first post from Colmar, my home town, where I am spending the Easter Holiday... Hmmmmm chocolate!!!
Anyway. So, today I want to tell you about "A prayer for Owen Meany", a book by John Irving. I haven't finished it yet (nearly there, but not quite), but I wanted to tell you about it because I think it gives a very interesting outlook on morals as well as religion and life for young people in general during the 60's in America.
The story is told by an American English teacher, who migrated to Canada during the Vietnam War period. His living in Canada does not help him forget America, and what he sees from a distance seem to infuriate him even more. He tells us about his childhood friend Owen Meany, a tiny boy whose voice was stuck in a "permanent scream". He therefore speaks only in block capitals. Telling you more about Owen's characteristics would be telling you too much about the story, because the particularities of the characters depend a lot on what happened to them in this book, but let me just say that he is a very "particular" character.
The book is very funny, but very moving too, very well written, and I find it interesting to us SUK4 students because as I said, it is an interesting mixture of opinions about morals in America. You get different points of view from the different characters, but it is always well argumented and as it is written by an American, you can trust him to know what he is talking about.
I like John Irving very very much in general, I never read a book by him which I did not like, although my personal all time favourite would be "The Cider House Rules", which might well be the best book I've ever read. It's not my favourite book, there are some others that I like best, but in terms of quality, I think it's the best book I've read so far.
Anyway, to conclude this entry about "A prayer for Owen Meany", I'll write down a little extract. The block capitals, as I said, are a consequence of Owen's particular voice. He is talking about the death of Marylin Monroe, which he sees as a symbol for Amercia...
"'IT HAS TO DO WITH ALL OF US,' said Owen Meany when I called him that night. 'SHE WAS JUST LIKE OUR WHOLE COUNTRY - NOT QUITE YOUNG ANYMORE, BUT NOT OLD EITHER; A LITTLE BREATHLESS, VERY BEATIFUL, MAYBE A LITTLE STUPID, MAYBE A LOT SMARTER THAN SHE SEEMED, AND SHE WAS LOOKING FOR SOMETHING - I THINK SHE WANTED TO BE GOOD. (...) -AND SHE WAS VULNERABLE TOO. SHE WAS NEVER QUITE HAPPY, SHE WAS ALWAYS A LITTLE OVERWEIGHT; SHE WAS JUST LIKE OUR WHOLE COUNTRY. (...)
'AND THOSE MEN,' he said, 'THOSE FAMOUS POWERFUL MEN -DID THEY REALLY LOVE HER? DID THEY TAKE CARE OF HER? IF SHE WAS EVER WITH THE KENNEDYS, THEY COULDN'T HAVE LOVED HER. THEY WERE JUST USING HER, THEY WERE JUST BEING CARELESS AND TREATING THEMSELVES TO A THRILL. THAT'S WHAT POWERFUL MEN DO TO THIS COUNTRY - IT'S A BEAUTIFUL, SEXY, BREATHLESS COUNTRY, AND POWERFUL MEN USE IT TO TREAT THEMSELVES TO A THRILL! THEY SAY THEY LOVE IT BUT THEY DON'T MEAN IT. THEY SAY THINGS TO MAKE THEMSELVES APPEAR GOOD - THEY MAKE THEMSELVES APPEAR MORAL. (...) SHE GOT USED, SHE WAS USED UP. JUST LIKE THE COUNTRY. THE COUNTRY WANTS A SAVIOUR, THE COUNTRY IS A SUCKER FOR POWERFUL MEN WHO LOOK GOOD. WE THINK THEY'RE MORALISTS AND THEY JUST USE US. THAT'S WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN TO YOU AND ME' said Owen Meany, 'WE'RE GOING TO BE USED'".
I learnt quite a lot about America in the 60's by reading this book, and it's also very entertaining to read. As I said, I haven't quite finished yet, but I won't be long.
Anyway, I think that's it for today, I hope that the weather is nice in Austria and that you are all enjoying your Easter Holidays as much as I am!! :)