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.
©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)
One of the best narrations (of out of several dozen) I've heard. I admit that I got bored with the story about halfway through, but that might just be because I listen while working and may have been more distracted than usual. Glad I picked it back up after a couple of weeks- excellent story and could not have predicted the details of the ending. Highly, highly recommend this book!!
Highly recommend ~ Such a talented author and moving story along with fantastic narration,
The lead up to the Christmas Story Play.
As I began to listen, I really didn't care for the performer or story. However I pushed myself to listen on a long trip and found myself enjoying the story and narration. Very thoughtful and creative storytelling that pulls you in and makes you want to keep listening.
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.
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