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A Prayer for Owen Meany | [John Irving]

A Prayer for Owen Meany

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.
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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.

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

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  •  
    Cherry North Bay, ON, Canada 06-11-11
    Cherry North Bay, ON, Canada 06-11-11 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    "formidable reading of a memorable book"

    The best! If you have or have not read the print version of A Prayer for Owen Meany by all means get this. This reader, Joe Barrett, gives believable life to the characters. ESPECIALLY OWEN'S. This is a bucket list read.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandra Warren, AR, United States 06-01-11
    Sandra Warren, AR, United States 06-01-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Prayer for Owen Meany"

    This is one of those books that has been on my list, and I never got around to reading it. Now I cannot wait to read other books by John Irving. This book captivated me on the first page and held my undivided interest until the very end. In fact, I found myself thinking about the book for days after I had completed it.John Irving develops the characters into people who are larger than life. I also really enjoyed this narrator. Seldom do I search by narrators, but now I look to find other readings by Joe Barrett.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maureen North Branch, MI, United States 05-27-11
    Maureen North Branch, MI, United States 05-27-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    "I just can't keep listening to this book"

    I read a review that mentioned how annoying the narrator's voice for Owen Meany is. I have listened to the first section; and even though I enjoy the story, I just can't bring myself to listen to any more of the book. The narrator's voice is good except when he speaks in Owen's voice or the voices of the other children. I just can't bear to listen any more. I'll probably get the book from the library and read the rest, because the book is well written and the story is very interesting.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MaDonna Victoria, TX, United States 05-22-11
    MaDonna Victoria, TX, United States 05-22-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT!!"

    I really enjoyed this book, keeps reader interested and waiting for the next part. Highly recommend!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth Cary, NC, United States 04-01-11
    Kenneth Cary, NC, United States 04-01-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What a story!"

    At first, my not being particularly religious, I was a little leery of this book. It started off well but it had the potential to get preachy. I am happy to report that, though religion is a basic theme of the book, it never proselytized. It was a very logical and sometimes comical look at life with religion in it. John Irving did an amazing job of jumping back and forth between the present and the past without confusing the reader. I loved this book. The symbolism and intertwining stories were so well done I didn't realize much of it until it was specifically pointed out and I'm usually one who can figure out a book by the 1/2 way point. There was one character that disappointed me in the end but I understand why Irving wrote it that way. Joe Barrett does a great job narrating although I'm not 100% sold on his version of Owen's voice. Overall, this is a book everyone should read.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John S MA 01-10-14
    John S MA 01-10-14 Member Since 2005

    Avid audible listener for over 10 years.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Favorite book of all time."

    John Irving is not for everyone, and if you have not listened to one of books choose this one. If not this one, then Cider House Rules. I have over 500 books in my Audible library and this by far is my favorite. John Irving books are by no means" thrillers", but the characters he creates are memorable, especially Owen Meany. Sad, funny, poignant this book should be on everyone's list of great American fiction. Told during the turbulent 60s the book is set in a small town in NH and follows the life of the main character (narrator) and Owen Meany, who is deformed in body but not in spirit . The ending will bring tears to your eyes:


    And they were also lifting up Owen Meany, taking him out of our hands. O God -- please give him back! I shall keep asking You."

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judy Bowna via Albury, Australia 10-28-13
    Judy Bowna via Albury, Australia 10-28-13 Member Since 2011

    Photographer's Moll, Chicken breeder, school administrator and owned by four dogs. Busy life, Happy life!

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    "My favourite book"

    What a beautiful story. Owen Meany made me laugh out loud in parts (the Nativity Play) and I cried quietly in others. I have no doubt that I will listen to this book again.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shannon Dayton, TX, United States 05-23-13
    Shannon Dayton, TX, United States 05-23-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Awesome book!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of A Prayer for Owen Meany to be better than the print version?

    Yes, because you get to here the voice of Owen Meany. At first the voice he uses for Owen Meany is weird and that is what the characters in the book also think but then the voice grows on you and you grow to love him as do the characters in the book.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Everything!


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

    I dont know if I could have truly experienced the character of Owen Meany without the voice.


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

    This book mad me laugh and made me sad at times.


    Any additional comments?

    This book had so many facets to it. There is friendship, faith, history, miracles, love and mystery and it all comes around and makes an amazing, complete circle. I can't believe I had never heard of this book. Owen Meany's name will always be locked in my head just like Atticus, Scout and Boo Radley from "To Kill a Mockingbird" and Amir and Hassan from "The Kite Runner".

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bruce M. Babbitt Dudley, MA USA 06-07-14
    Bruce M. Babbitt Dudley, MA USA 06-07-14 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I thought that this was a novel-surprise!"
    Any additional comments?

    This turned out to be a political diatribe within a novel. The author kept making derogatory comments about President Reagan. This had absolutely nothing to do with anything else in the story. The rest of the book was OK for a while, but along with the Reagan distraction, it seemed to lose focus--I had to quit. No more John Irving for me.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sue Williamsburg, VA, United States 04-29-13
    Sue Williamsburg, VA, United States 04-29-13 Member Since 2011
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    "A well written book"

    Although the author uses a lot of foreshadowing and imagery techniques throughout the novel, it is the story and narration that make it an outstanding book for me. The narrator's voice for Owen Meany is annoying at times, but it is essential to the story.

    The book grabbed me from the start and it was very hard to put down. I had never listened to or read a John Irving novel, but I have now added more to my wish list.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 11-20 of 196 results PREVIOUS12320NEXT
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  • Tom
    West Wickham, United Kingdom
    5/31/10
    Overall
    "A fine book"

    This is a fine book, and in Owen Meany, the author has created a truly memorable character. It is not a fast paced listen, but somehow manages to retain your interest throughout. John Irving's prose can plod at times - I did muse what this story might have been like in the hands of, say, Vladimir Nabokov - and this plodding is not helped by what at times is a rather worthy narration, but to be fair to the narrator he does do Owen Meany himself brilliantly, and generally holds your interest.

    All that said, I did enjoy the book a lot, and have downloaded another of John Irving's books as a result.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Annie
    Twickenham, United Kingdom
    9/24/09
    Overall
    "Amazing"

    Absolutely amazing, have just finished it and want to start it all over again. , this is the first Irving novel that I have read and cannot wait to read another. He is a modern master story teller, a la Dickens. Intellegent and spell binding and beautifully narrated.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Janet
    Stockwood, Bristol, United Kingdom
    8/6/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A new favourite for me"

    I don't know why it is wonderful but it is. It has held me in it's grip and I am going to be lost when it ends.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • susan
    wolverhampton, United Kingdom
    7/15/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "What a creation...I gobbled it up with glee"
    Where does A Prayer for Owen Meany rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is near the top of my list.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The character of Owen, however seemingly far-fetched never felt false, and I was fascinated by the relationships in the book, particularly the central one between Owen and John.


    Have you listened to any of Joe Barrett’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    I didn't know Joe Barrett before, but his narration was superb, particularly characterisation.


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

    Emotions were heightened by the author's unforced and controlled way of dealing with pathos tragedy and comedy. Masterfully done.


    Any additional comments?

    I shall not forget this book in a hurry.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Alan
    BASINGSTOKE, United Kingdom
    6/28/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Immersive!"
    What did you like most about A Prayer for Owen Meany?

    Gentle and calm plot development, drawing the listener in to the weave of the story.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Found story immersive and couldn't wait to loose myself back into the story.


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

    Owen Meany of course.


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

    Wanted to, but given its length, not possible I'm afraid.


    Any additional comments?

    Narration is excellent, and strong tho the story is I feel it probably plays better as an audio book........because of the quality of the narration.
    The book felt like a complex jigsaw, where the author constructs small areas, slowly bringing the areas together to eventually complete the whole story, and, as with jigsaws, you can leave it to return to continue your enjoyment, without loosing plot.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Vivienne
    Esporles, Spain
    6/18/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Weird, wonderful and worthwhile"
    Any additional comments?

    The narrator was quite amazing. How he managed to "do" Owen Meaney's voice for so long without damage I don't know. The story was very well plotted and the reader had absolutely no idea what way it would go. In parts - John - the narrator in the story - was rather didactic and apart from him being such a faithful friend to Owen, I could have thought him very nit picking. I feel that British readers may wish for less detail on Vietnam or the politics of the time, however, it is essential to the plot to understand. An astounding feat of writing - and narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Esther
    Wales
    5/21/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A good listen"

    I doubt I would have finished this book if I had been reading it, but I use audiobooks as a means of getting to sleep and so for the most part I found the somewhat repetitive writing soothing. It was beautifully read. The story is about a diminutive boy/man with a very high pitched voice (this almost grated but never quite did) who seems to have a disproportionate effect on those around him, including killing his friend (the narrator's) mother. As it neared the end, I lost hours of sleep as I awaited the denouement.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Norah
    Herefordshire, England
    5/18/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    ""Don't be afraid""

    I can only bless the previous commentators........without their reviews I would never have chosen this book.
    The narration is awesome.

    If you are having trouble choosing a book, look no further.......it may possibly change the way you approach both life and death.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Miss
    RICHMOND, United Kingdom
    4/23/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A good performance of an Irving Classic"

    I've read the physical book time and again, so I was hesitant to get the audio but I was glad I did.

    Hearing it opened up and added depth to areas is seemingly not recalled as vividly in the reading of it myself, and the performance of Owen's 'Granite Mouse' voice was wonderfully executed, as ear jarring to listen to as one would require it to be for authenticity. Good job!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Victoria
    Witney, United Kingdom
    3/9/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An outstanding Book, don't give up on it!"
    What did you like most about A Prayer for Owen Meany?

    I loved every twist and turn. I can't rate this book high enough.
    Just keep on with it as it just gets better.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Prayer for Owen Meany?

    The final tragic scene.......


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

    My favourite character was Owen, such a powerful figure in the book, not to be underestimated.


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

    This book is a compelling. Just too long for a one hit listen.


    Any additional comments?

    This book was chosen for my book group. I will score it 10 out of 10.
    It made me cry!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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