Say a Little Prayer for Owen Meany

This is Owen Meany (the kitten formerly known as Grace). Owen is the little brother of the lamented Mankato. (Last Friday’s blog “Too Short a Story.”)

Owen looks well and is putting on weight, along with his sister Carrie. In the fight to make them gain at least half an ounce per day, let’s just say Owen and I bonded. Jack is used to a few changes in the bookstore while he’s in Scotland. This is a very small change, really; Owen only weighs 1 lb. 4 oz.

How did Owen get his name, when the rest of the brood of nine (yes, nine) are referred to as the Little House on the Prairie Summer Series? (We foster kittens regularly in our bookshop, and give the families literary names to help customers appreciate their merits.)

He started life as “Grace.” You know, when they’re that young, does it matter? Time enough to conform to social norms when his little parts become more evident.

And I have this editor at St. Martin’s Press…..

I’ve been fortunate to work with two women on my book, Nichole the editor and Pamela the agent, who both turned out to be not just brilliant, but nice. And fun. We came together professionally, but clicked. That was an added bonus to this whole making-a-book-thing: to find non-cynical people it was easy to talk and listen to, who loved the meaning of their work even as we all acknowledged the economic engine driving it.

Yet Nichole and I did have one significant difference: she loves John Irving. (His work,that is.) The first draft of the book I sent her dissed A Prayer for Owen Meany something awful, and she e-mailed me a tongue-in-cheek note that she could not publish such a statement. We laughed and joked and went back and forth using Owen Meany as a bargaining chip: “Let me keep the colloquialisms and I’ll re-read Meany.”; “I’ll admit parts of Meany don’t flow well if you’ll revise Chapter 9.” It became a code.

And then, this little guy limped into the bookstore, weighing 8 ounces and looking like he didn’t have a prayer. Again, the bargaining began: God, fix this kitten and I’ll……

So when baby boy here waddled happily into the kitchen yesterday in search of wet cat food, and I watched his fat little butt swinging across the linoleum, I knew ‘he weren’t going noplace,’ as they say in Lancashire. In 14 months of fostering, giving in to the heart tugs of one kitten isn’t so bad. At this rate, it will take me six years to be classified a crazy cat lady. But he needed a name that disconnected him from the rest of the family, that let him be himself instead of in Mankato’s Little House shadow.

And he looks like Owen Meany. If you’ve ever read the book (and why should you?) Owen is a tiny guy with big ears and eyes and a voice–I kid you not; blame Irving for this description–like strangling mice. If you visit us at the bookstore, I’m sure this Owen will meow for you. He does it a lot, demanding food, or to be picked up. (He grabs your ankle and plants his bum on your foot until you bend down and nestle him against your chest.) And you will hear why Owen Meany came to mind.

So, everyone, meet Owen; Owen, this is everyone. And, Nichole? Nyah, nyah, nyah. :p

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Say a Little Prayer for Owen Meany

  1. Stacy Baker

    I am so happy for Owen – – and you!!

  2. Again, a perfect post. You say so much about him that you can almost feel that you have met and have held the little stinker. Wendy you are a person there are so few of in the world.

  3. Nichole Argyres

    I knew that with enough patience, we’d get Owen Meany onto your bookshelves. If it has to be in the shape of feline, I’ll take it. Continued health and love to you, Owen!

  4. these kind of articles really help me. so thank you.

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