and a penny for your thoughts
I do not believe a review can do this book justice but would like to say that if you are the child or grandchild of a baby boomer, this book will help you understand why we were so passionate about change and what we live through that made us who we are. It is funny, poignant, interesting, informative and Joe Barret's narration is so good as to be beyond belief. I am an audiobook narrator snob. Some of these people shouldn't be reading a cereal box but Barrett is at the top of the list. Owen Meany is A+ in every respect. It doesn't surprise me that John Irving is a fan of Charles Dickens and Joe Barret's reading of it could not be improved one iota.
A Prayer for Owen Meany has been around since 1989 and is written in the style of many authors of the 60s … i.e., wordy and wandering. This story is light on environmental detail and heavy on characters. There is little description, but lots of character thought and behavior. Charles Dickens comes to mind in a story that covers the coming of age of two boys through the fifties/sixties and the Vietnam era. It is also a platform for Irving to weave his political beliefs through the voice of the point of view character, John Wheelwright. This is common behavior for successful authors, Stephen King comes to mind. At any rate, in my opinion, a fictional story is the wrong place. I don’t care about the author’s politics unless I’ve purchased a non-fiction about politics. But, that’s just me…..
At just under thirty hours of listening, the narration is nicely done by Joe Barrett. If you’ve read the book, you’ll remember that Owen’s dialogue is all caps, an effort by Irving to convey a distinctive voice. The narrator interpretation is a high-pitched and boyish.
There are a ton of reviews on this story, ergo not much for me to add other than a minor opinion. Modern writing is reflective of an immediate gratification mindset, the quick made-for-tv two-hour movie. A Prayer for Owen Meany is of a different era, old fashioned and verbose. If you like this type of elongated prose, it’s among the best. If you don’t, you’ll be bored silly and likely fast-forward or jump some chapters…a lot.
Whether you're a believer or not does is not important when reading A Prayer for Owen Meany. It's a remarkable story, well told. Few novels pushed me to think as deeply about modern issues and religion as this one all the while enjoying a good story. The author lays out all the clues - and tricked me with a few I thought were clues - but tied everything together in the end. For some, the ending may be too neat of a knot. I read some reviewers who felt the story was contrived. For me, I enjoyed watching the pieces fall into place. I also was struck by the fact that this story could happen as much today as the Vietnam period. Sad in a way that we didn't learn more from that war. This too was interesting to me - to look back and learn about the Vietnam War of my childhood through a variety of lenses. So I enjoyed the story, I learned more about the era, and I'm still thinking about what all of it means. A bonus is getting help with all of my thinking by listening to the interview with the author at the end.
The narrator does the various characters so well, especially that of owen meany. It's a long book but it was a good one. I recommend this audiobook highly.
Narrator uses consistent, distinct voices for each character, especially Owen's, which really brings it to life.
I would, without hesitation. Joe Barrett does an exceptional job bringing Irving's captivating, intricate novel to life. I laughed, cried, cringed, and was deeply moved.
Owen is the star of the show, but I identify with his best friend John; I'm a plodder, well-meaning, but all too often more than a little thick headed. All the characters were well wrought and multi-dimensional.
He did a great job with Owen, who is a character that is so over the top in so many ways that it would be easy to overdo him, and render him as a caricature. But Barrett didn't reduce him one bit; he made him human, and moving, cringe-inducing voice and all.
Owen, Hester, and Harriet Wheelright would all make for lively company.
This audio book is one of the best I've ever enjoyed. John Irving's storytelling leaves me speechless. The voice actor's performance holds up to the author's e caption ally high standard.
One has to admire an author who can tell you of a character's death in his first line and reiterate it throughout 30 hours of listening pleasure and still have you sobbing in your car on the way to work when it finally happens!