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 Irving’s book, you'll also get an exclusive Jim Atlas interview added to your library.
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.
©1989 Garp Enterprises Ltd; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
“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)
Yes, it is a wonderful story. I love that Joe Barrett added his own flare.
Owen of course
I would rank this as tied for my favourite audio fiction with Deliverance,
The only books that I could compare this to are other John Irving masterpieces: The World According to Garp and Cider House Rules.
It's hard to chose a favourite. Owen and his weird voice, John the best friend or even the grandmother were all so believable.
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.
Absolutely. This is a wonderful story, wonderfully told, full of tears and laughter.
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.
Owen, definitely. It was wonderful! Definitely not an "unspeakable outrage!"
You'll get that when you listen.
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.
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.
Absolutely because the narrator WAS Owen Meany! Reading would have been too tedious to finish.
Owen was an intellectual with a heart and perseverance.
I would never have read this book, but listening to Joe Barrett made it possible and I'm pleased.
I liked the character of Owen Meany, neat guy.
I would miss the different voices, particularly Owen Meany. His was a unique voice, something that wouldn't necessarily come across reading the book.
I enjoyed this book so much that I probably will listen again.
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.
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.
Oh, no. I wanted to savor it over time.
This is my new favorite book. I wanted this to be a long audiobook because I enjoyed spending time with the characters.
I read the book many years ago, but didn't appreciate it until this audible version.
The characters are all very well drawn and it's impossible to pick one.
I have always felt that a good narrator makes an audible book into a movie in my mind. Joe Barrett certainly did that. I could see everything so clearly.
Defiinitely yes, but I was also hoping I could make it last forever.
I always thought "Garp" was my favorite Irving book. Now I'm going to have to listen to the audible version of that one to see if it maintains first place. "Owen Meany" is a stand-out of a book and will be hard to beat.
The entire story, while lengthy is captivating.
The Principle character Owen Meany
I loved the book and I'll listen to another of the authors tomes to compare
Okay, take a great story and write it with skill. You get a great book. BUT now add superb narration and you simply cannot stop listening. This book is like a series of short stories, but with the same characters. I was amazed that Irving has probably 40+ characters in this book -- but I was never confused. He has a gift for the right word, the right metaphor. His characters are rich and deep. Owen Meany touched my spirit in so many ways -- I find myself imitating him (yes, it is a little embarrassing...).
This goes on my list of all time best books ever read. Thank you John Irving; thank you Joe Barrett.
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