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)
I love books!
I considered reading this book some years ago but couldn't get into the premise of a little leaguer's foul ball killing the mother of his best friend and how it affected their lives. For some reason I was ready for it now. I know John is a great writer and this is a great book. If you grew up in the Vietnam era or are interested in a book with that in the background of two kids growing up in New Hampshire, you'll like this book. It's an intellectual, thought provoking story.
I am an Australian woman who enjoys reading many different styles of books, from history to sci fi and mystery to poetry.
I truly loved this story and the narration is wonderful, the narrator captures nearly all of the characters beautifully.
This book would definately rate in my top 5. The narration was wonderful and Owen leaves his print in your heart.
I listened to this book because it was being read for a faculty book club. This was my first John Irving book and I found myself captivated - stopping occasionally to text someone else who had read the book to share I thought or question I had.
The narration is wonderful. I was worried at first that Owen's voice would become tiresome, but it doesn't.
This is one of those books that I'll seek out a hardcover copy of for my personal collection.
The World According to Garp was one of my favorite books back in the 80's. I loved the characters and Irving's sense of humor when dealing with serious issues. I had not read A Prayer for Owen Meany, so I decided to buy it. What a treat! The characters are amazingly crazy, and Owen Meany is a special guy in more than one way. The descriptions of childhood memories, such as a Christmas play, had me laughing out loud and chuckling later. I think Irving's indulgence in railing against the Reagan administration unfortunately made the book more dated in its outlook and a bit annoying, but it did not take away from my overall love for the total book. He tied things together well at the end, and actually ended up more balanced than I feared earlier in the book. Also, Joe Barrett did an absolutely amazing job on the reading, authentically portraying a New England accent. I am amazed that he could make his voice move around to do the different characters, particularly Owen Meany. Now I think I will revisit T.S. Garp!
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.
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.
I dont know if I could have truly experienced the character of Owen Meany without the voice.
This book mad me laugh and made me sad at times.
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".
I really enjoyed this book, keeps reader interested and waiting for the next part. Highly recommend!
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
Like quick sand, every chapter creates a mystery that pulls the listener deeper into the story.
Why is Owen Meany???s voice so high pitched and single noted? Who is the ???lady in red???? Who is Owen Meany???s illegitimate friend???s father? Why do the main characters keep practicing ???the shot???? What is Owen Meany???s recurring dream? Right foot, left foot, body, and brain; soon you are consumed by Irving's mysteries.
Joe Barrett???s spoken presentation is terrific because it enhances the written meaning of the story. James Atlas precedes the narration with an interview of John Irving, the author. The Atlas??? interview sets the table for what you are about to hear.
Irving writes a story about growing up in Anywhere, America where the pious are weak, the rich are intimidating and the children are indulged. It is an age like today with ministers preaching and not believing, parents teaching right and doing wrong, and children maturing physically and wasting mentally. Owen Meany is an exception, as this story tells the listener.
Owen Meany is modeled like the little man in The Tin Drum, a book about a dwarf like German citizen observing the beginning, progress, and ending of the WWII German tragedy. Owen Meany is a stunted American citizen living at the beginning of an evolving Vietnam American tragedy.
The subject of Vietnam is generally understood as an American disaster. It earned its American anti war rebellion. Irving???s story crystallizes the anxiety and frustration of that time. He offers an answer to what we can do when we become anxious and frustrated about things that seem beyond our control. It is not an easy path but redemption for atrocity begins with people of faith who see reality, have an inner morale compass, and act with a relentless commitment to stop senseless acts of war.
I did not connect John Irving to Cider House Rules at first. But after listening for awhile, the same delightful humor style came rushing back and I was thrilled. How Irving unravels this story, interweaving current with past is tricky and clever. And just as in Cider House Rules, he plays out a rather political theme ever so carefully that you do not even realize it is happening.
The narration is also rather clever. At first it was annoying when "the voice" was used even for one-word illustrations. But it truly added to the story. I began to anticipate it.
There is a wonderful interview with John Irving at the end. That was great, getting some insight on his writing style.
There were so many fascinating twists and turns to the story. It also brought back some wonderful (I see I am using "wonderful" a lot but truly that is how I feel) memories of my own childhood. It all made me wonder why I have not read more of John Irving. I plan to do just that!!
"Stay with it - a masterpiece."
Yes - the central character is just so captivating as is the book's narrator.
Owen Meany - prophetic, small, squeaky voiced, and enthralling.
The narration is what makes this - just outstanding - the best I've heard in an audible book - his range of voices is consistently brilliant.
Yes - the ending was moving and the big story of the US' conscience and the Vietnam War is revealed superbly in the tale
Stick with it for the first few chapters until the characters grow on you. The humour is laugh out loud and irreverent and yet spiritual too without ever being pious. Irving says in the interview at the end that the challenge he set himself was to ask as an atheist, what it would take for him to come to believe in God.
"difficult to go through"
There is an interesting story in this book but really really taking long time to get through. I rather preferred reading the book instead of listening then I could skip some pages more quickly. I am in the last 6 hours and feeling like I can't breathe anymore while trying to get it done. Narration is excellent, the accents are very well done, story is good but unnecessarily long.
"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.
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.
"Such an annoying boy - but totally captivating..."
Prepare to be irritated, infuriated and enchanted by Owen Meany in equal measure. This is a book about friendship, love, religion and war - all the big themes - but beautifully woven into a vivid story about a charismatic boy in small town America, spanning the Fifties to the Eighties. Joe Barrett does a marvelous job of narrating this lengthy story, particularly in tackling Owen's screechy voice in an honest and unfliching way.
I recommend you listen to the final chapter, which is an interview with John Irving and an amazing insight into how an author understands his own work.
This a big time investment but probably one of the best you will ever make.
"A strange and difficult but compelling story"
As Owen Meany is decribed as having a dreadful voice- a "permenent scream"- I was worried that an audio version of this book would be unbearable to listen to. But Joe Barrett's performance manages to balance listenability and catching enough of Owen's voice to bring hime alive.
Wonderful book, but what really impresses is the narrator. This book is a challenge to narrate: there are a raft of core complex characters who need to be differentiated for the listener and Owen Meany himself is a unique test. I'm glad I had not read any of it beforehand or I may have had a view of how the capitalised text from the book should be rendered for an audio version. But all I can say is that the job done was faultless. This is a powerful but subtle story and to do it justice it needed a strong narrator performance -delivered!
Reading a prayer for Owen Meany was a journey so powerful that I have thought about and missed him every day. I have now listened to this wonderful book and it moved me even more because I knew what was coming.
"A Must for all Fans of American Modern Classics!"
Joe Barrett's tone and delivery are perfect, and the voice of Owen Meany is well interpreted.
I enjoyed this audio-book as much as 'The Book Thief' by Markus Zusak, as the plot is both thoughtful and engaging - beautifully presented by the narrator.
I particularly enjoyed Joe Barrett's performance as Owen Meany, as the character's voice is an important dimension of the plot.
If you had known Owen Meany, would you believe in God?
"Not long enough!"
Memorable, moving and entertaining
I have yet to find a book that compares to this. It manages to be both gripping and matter of fact at the same time
The Voice! It perfectly evokes the image of a tiny man with a huge effect on all around him
This book took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions, from sadness and outrage to laugh out loud joy
This is one of the first audible books I listened to. Some 200 books later I have still not found a more entertaining novel. If I could, I would make it required listening for all Audible members
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