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.
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“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)
This audiobook felt regrettably long. There were many sections that I wished were either more brief or more interesting. Time seemed to crawl when listening...
Love kitties, quilting, and cooking
The writing is beautiful, and it is a good story.
When Owen plays the Baby Jesus in the Christmas Pageant.
I thought he did a good job with the voices. It was easy to tell when the speaker changed and I was listening to a new character.
Oh definitely Owen Meany. He was a complex character with lots of personality.
My mother in law was the first person to suggest I read this book. She asked me every time I saw her if I had read it yet. Sadly, I lost the book at some point in time, and didn't get around to trying it again until after her death. I can now see why she enjoyed it so much, and I wish she were alive today so that I could discuss the story with her. I'm very curious what she found compelling about it. John Irving is a great writer. I've read most everything that he's written, and his writing never becomes formulaic. Enjoyed this book very much.
This is a special book. There are so many different issues raised, so many different people portrayed, so many points of view shown ... it's about two boys but it's beyond that .. it's about faith and love, religion, war, national pride, changing times, literacy. Throughout the book we know that Owen has died .. but that didn't stop the tear when it happens ..This book will haunt me!
John Irving at his best. The story is gripping, the prose flawless, and the narration by John Irving wonderfully completes it.
Owen Meany -- his personality, his secrets, his spirituality.
I have read (or listened to) all of John Irving's novels. This is one of his best.
Grandma bibliophile! Audible books make reading with an active life possible.
I read A Prayer for Owen Meany in book form years ago and it has ever since been one of my favorites. This audible version is fabulous! Joe Barrett does a wonderful job of making Owen a little more than annoying, which is the point. The story itself, I still just love. Two boyhood friends growing up together, an accidental death of one's mother by the other, and the relationships in their lives. The ending is not what you expect, Owen dies as a result of the Vietnam war, but not in it. All of the events that lead to that point are what make this a little spiritual and a little political, and how Owen develops his viewpoint is unique and entertaining. A wonderful tale that I highly recommend.
I am an avid mystery/thriller, historical fiction and political fiction listener. I listen while working (I am a remodeling contractor).
Left me crying.
How involved Irving got the reader with this cast of characters.
Oh so many but I would have to pick Paul Owen Meany.
I think John would be my dinner pick because I would like to know more about his emotional relationship with Owen, and I think we could talk for hours about his life in New England and Canada.
You know, when you're reading a book and you know what's going to happen and you know it's going to hurt but you just can't quite reading and can't seem to turn the pages fast enough...well that is exactly what happens with a Prayer for Owen Meany. John Irving's writing and Joe Barrett's narration were great. This was an unexpected pleasure!
Probably Irving's best work. I've read this book a few times and was concerned that Owen's voice would not work as a audiobook but man was I worried for nothing. The narrator does a brilliant job of bringing this book and especially Owen to life. Great story, beautifully written with a depth and a real search for truth in the characters that makes this well worth the time invested.
A Prayer For Owen Meany is both one of my favorite books, and one of my favorite audio books. It's the kind of book that reminds me why I read fiction, why I love stories. I think it's Irving's best book. Hilarious, sad, and very human. If you love good stories, you'll love this one. Barrett is an excellent narrator, and (as I believe) a quality book in the hands of a quality narrator becomes even better.
Powerful, redemptive, darkly funny
Owen's dual performances as The Prince of Peace and The Ghost of Christmas Future stand out as one of the most ingenious, hilarious, memorable,and celebratory literary experiences I have ever had. The narrator is masterful at conveying all of Irving's dark irony.
This book is an example of one of Audible's main benefits for me: allowing or "forcing" me to read fine, powerful books that, for one reason or the other, I never got around to reading. (Other examples include "The Poisonwood Bible" and "The Kiterunner.") It was obvious from the opening paragraphs that I was going to enjoy this reading of an American masterpiece.
Listening to this book is like taking a leisurely boat trip down a beautiful stream. You never want it to end so you don't pick up the oars. Some may think it is too slow, but who cares how long it takes when it is so gorgeous.
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