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A Prayer for Owen Meany Audiobook

A Prayer for Owen Meany

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Publisher's Summary

Of all of John Irving's books, this is the one that lends itself best to audio. In print, Owen Meany's dialogue is set in capital letters; for this production, Irving himself selected Joe Barrett to deliver Meany's difficult voice as intended.

In the summer of 1953, two 11-year-old boys – best friends – are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary and terrifying.

As an added bonus, when you purchase our Audible Modern Vanguard production of John Irvin's book, you'll also get an exclusive Jim Atlas interview that begins when the audiobook ends.

Why we think it’s a great listen: For 20 years, John Irving believed that his ambitious novel could never be adequately executed in audio – and then he met narrator Joe Barrett.... In the summer of 1953, two 11-year-old boys - best friends - are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument.


This production is part of our Audible Modern Vanguard line, a collection of important works from groundbreaking authors.

©1989 Garp Enterprises Ltd; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“John Irving, who writes novels in the unglamorous but effective way Babe Ruth used to hit home runs, deserves a medal not only for writing this book but for the way he has written it. . . . A Prayer for Owen Meany is a rare creation in the somehow exhausted world of late twentieth-century fiction—it is an amazingly brave piece of work . . . so extraordinary, so original, and so enriching. . . . Readers will come to the end feeling sorry to leave [this] richly textured and carefully wrought world.” (Stephen King)

"Roomy, intelligent, exhilarating, and darkly comic...Dickensian in scope....Quite stunning and very ambitious." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

"John Irving is an abundantly and even joyfully talented storyteller." (The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Chi 01-05-15
    Chi 01-05-15
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    "No struggle to finish just a struggle to start ."

    In the end, I really enjoyed this book, but it took til about half -way to become really involved with the characters to the point that I cared what happened to them. But when I reached that point, I found myself returning again and again to see where they were headed. John Irving is, of course, a very skillful author but was surprised at how his skillful use of foreshadowing keeps the reader engaged without revealing the plot twists too soon. I especially enjoyed the social, religious and political commentary. I NEVER read an abridged version of a book , but found myself wondering several times if this book should have been an exception.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy D. Stevens Rochester, NY United States 12-28-14
    Nancy D. Stevens Rochester, NY United States 12-28-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Listen, even if you've read it in print!"
    What did you like about this audiobook?

    I've read "A Prayer for Owen Meany" at least twice in print and it's high up on my personal Top Ten best books list. The audio version brings the story to life in a way that print can't, even though the author uses all caps for Owen's speech.


    How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

    As best as I can tell, I'm three or 4 years younger than Johnny and Owen, so the story brought back lots of memories. I haven't read many novels about the Viet Nam era, so I may look for more. In addition, I haven't found many novels about losing and finding one's faith that aren't preachy or sticky sweet. I liked walking with the various characters through Irving's descriptions of their struggles with faith and the church (which are now more separated than ever - "I'm spiritual but not religious).


    Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

    The most obvious is the uniqueness of Owen's voice which, as I have already said, is much more effective in audio than in print. Also, I was much more aware of the "Do you remember?" refrain in audio than I was in the print version.


    What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?

    One of the best I've ever heard. Finding the right voice for Owen must have been extremely difficult, and maintaining it throughout the book a real challenge. Joe Barrett is a genius.


    Do you have any additional comments?

    Don't skip the author interview which comes at the end of the book. I enjoyed it very much.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catheryn 12-25-14
    Catheryn 12-25-14
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    "Excellent book and reader"
    Would you consider the audio edition of A Prayer for Owen Meany to be better than the print version?

    In some ways yes the audible version is better than the print version. This reader is excellent. It is a long book but gripping and inspiring.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Everything. I listened to this book three times in a row because it was so engaging and moving and hilarious.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This is a good read/ listen. It is intelligent, entertaining and thought provoking. It has many layers.


    Any additional comments?

    Just read this /listen to this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DeAnn 12-18-14
    DeAnn 12-18-14
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    "Loved this book and voices are amazing"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, it is a wonderful story. I love that Joe Barrett added his own flare.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Owen of course


    Which character – as performed by Joe Barrett – was your favorite?

    the Grandmother


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Duncan 10-15-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Outstanding performance of the greatest book ever."
    Where does A Prayer for Owen Meany rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I would rank this as tied for my favourite audio fiction with Deliverance,


    What other book might you compare A Prayer for Owen Meany to and why?

    The only books that I could compare this to are other John Irving masterpieces: The World According to Garp and Cider House Rules.


    Which character – as performed by Joe Barrett – was your favorite?

    It's hard to chose a favourite. Owen and his weird voice, John the best friend or even the grandmother were all so believable.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rick Kintigh Chicago, IL USA 10-08-14
    Rick Kintigh Chicago, IL USA 10-08-14 Member Since 2013
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    "a story told as a memory"

    A Prayer for Owen Meany is told like a memory. Out of sequence and not all at once. Memory as fragment intermixed with correlated memories and current observations. Like harmonics. Like arpeggios. It is a story about faith from the point of view of someone without faith. The layer upon layer of odd specificity of actions and characteristics can be somewhat irksome. It's like when reading Atlas Shrugged and each retelling of story doesn't actually add anything, but underlines it again and again. We see the predestination and the all the glaring oddity. It is obvious that these are not just character traits but cogs in a specific machine. A Rube Goldberg contraption which will damage each character in a specific way. Leave familiar scars. But it is our memory so it is perhaps obvious that we would remember the man he would be and underline again and again the harmonics. The omens. I don't know exactly how I feel about this book. I love when a story is told in pieces and I can assemble them and solve the story. But there was nothing to solve here. There are specifics that elude us until the end, but the clues are remembered over and over and underlined again and again. The outcome was never in doubt. We know the end before we ever remember the beginning. I don't think John ever finds faith, but it is obvious he still tries. John is an incomplete man. He was essentially created by Owen and left incomplete. That yearning plagues the reading. It is a little too long, too many memories, then ends all at once. I imagine that is how John feels.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    August LA VERGNE, TN, United States 10-05-14
    August LA VERGNE, TN, United States 10-05-14
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    "A Worthy Experience to Read"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely. This is a wonderful story, wonderfully told, full of tears and laughter.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I loved how perfectly everything was tied together. It seemed like everything had meaning, each experience the boys had together was leading toward their crux.


    Which character – as performed by Joe Barrett – was your favorite?

    Owen, definitely. It was wonderful! Definitely not an "unspeakable outrage!"

    You'll get that when you listen.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    This already is a movie. It's called Simon Birch.

    I'd probably make a tagline of "No faith is too small" or something like that.


    Any additional comments?

    I picked up this book in part because I’m familiar with (and in fact a fan of) the movie based on it, Simon Birch.

    Wow, are they two very different animals. The message is the same. Many of the key points are the same. But, as is true with nearly all book-to-screen adaptations, the book traverses a whole few extra dimensions the movie simply cannot touch on. I can’t go as far to say that Simon Birch ruined A Prayer for Owen Meany for me, or that now finally listening to the book ruined the movie for me. They are each something to be appreciated for their own merits. The differences are so drastic that it’s… not unrecognizable as the same story, but at least so different that it’s like comparing an apple to a pear. They’re very similar, yes, and one may be descended from the other, but one is so transformed that they’re just not easily compared anymore.

    I love Simon Birch. I loved A Prayer for Owen Meany. They are two very different experiences, and both worth having.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy 10-02-14
    Nancy 10-02-14
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    "Joe Barrett IS Owen Meany"
    Would you consider the audio edition of A Prayer for Owen Meany to be better than the print version?

    Absolutely because the narrator WAS Owen Meany! Reading would have been too tedious to finish.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Owen was an intellectual with a heart and perseverance.


    Which character – as performed by Joe Barrett – was your favorite?

    Owen


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Not exactly


    Any additional comments?

    I would never have read this book, but listening to Joe Barrett made it possible and I'm pleased.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marj 09-15-14
    Marj 09-15-14
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    "Interesting story"
    What did you love best about A Prayer for Owen Meany?

    I liked the character of Owen Meany, neat guy.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    see above.


    What does Joe Barrett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I would miss the different voices, particularly Owen Meany. His was a unique voice, something that wouldn't necessarily come across reading the book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn Pile 09-06-14 Member Since 2011

    pilegirl

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    "The Best Book I Ever Listened To"
    Would you listen to A Prayer for Owen Meany again? Why?

    I enjoyed this book so much that I probably will listen again.


    What did you like best about this story?

    John Irving really makes you care about what happens to his characters. The timeline sometimes jumps around, so I knew something was going to happen to a character, but I still hoped it wouldn't. I found myself worried about his fate.


    What does Joe Barrett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    How did he come up with the unique voice of Owen Meany? And his women's voices really do sound like women, even the grandmother sounds like just the sort of old lady described in the book.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Oh, no. I wanted to savor it over time.


    Any additional comments?

    This is my new favorite book. I wanted this to be a long audiobook because I enjoyed spending time with the characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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