BBC Radio 4

Society & Culture

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Society & Culture 144

Led by James Naughtie, a group of readers talk to acclaimed authors about their best-known novels


John Irving

December 6th, 2009

Episode 280 of 428 episodes

James Naughtie and readers talk to celebrated American author John Irving about his novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany. The novel starts with a shock - the eponymous hero hits a foul ball in a baseball match and kills his best friend's mother. It then moves through to spooky premonitions during an amateur performance of A Christmas Carol, to a drunken psychiatrist driving down school steps, to a bloody end during the Vietnam war. Yet there is pattern and meaning in such bizarre antics, and part of the fun for the reader is to work them out. Irving reveals the mysteries of one of fiction's most extraordinary characters, Owen Meany - the little guy with the falsetto voice.