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A Prayer for Owen Meany Audiobook

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.

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.


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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  •  
    John S MA 01-10-14
    John S MA 01-10-14 Member Since 2014

    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."

    22 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon Brisbane, Australia 02-19-13
    Sharon Brisbane, Australia 02-19-13 Member Since 2015

    I am an Australian woman who enjoys reading many different styles of books, from history to sci fi and mystery to poetry.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A terrific book"

    I truly loved this story and the narration is wonderful, the narrator captures nearly all of the characters beautifully.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharron Robinvale, Australia 05-22-12
    Sharron Robinvale, Australia 05-22-12 Member Since 2014
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    "A Must Read"

    This book would definately rate in my top 5. The narration was wonderful and Owen leaves his print in your heart.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca Fort Oglethorpe, GA, United States 04-28-12
    Rebecca Fort Oglethorpe, GA, United States 04-28-12 Member Since 2008
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    "More than worth a credit!"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jill Franklin, CT, United States 08-02-11
    Jill Franklin, CT, United States 08-02-11 Member Since 2010
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    "A Wonderful Book!"

    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!

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandra Warren, AR, United States 06-01-11
    Sandra Warren, AR, United States 06-01-11
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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.

    7 of 8 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".

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MaDonna Victoria, TX, United States 05-22-11
    MaDonna Victoria, TX, United States 05-22-11
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    "EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT!!"

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

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 06-14-13
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 06-14-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Very Intriguing"

    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!!

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 04-23-11
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 04-23-11 Member Since 2015

    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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "FAITH"

    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.

    27 of 35 people found this review helpful
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  • James
    winchester, Hampshire, United Kingdom
    9/12/09
    Overall
    "A Prayer for Owen Meany"

    great book, lovely narration, a fantastic way to spend 26hrs.

    though is just shame a about the music. particularly at the end, as it kicks in when you are lost in the story and it brings you round like a slap the face just when you want to be left with your thoughts. why is it there ? as you can tell it has left an unfortunate final impression on this version. this is as shame as otherwise I loved this book.

    12 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • MR Coffey
    7/28/15
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Stay with it - a masterpiece."
    Would you listen to A Prayer for Owen Meany again? Why?

    Yes - the central character is just so captivating as is the book's narrator.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Owen Meany - prophetic, small, squeaky voiced, and enthralling.


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

    The narration is what makes this - just outstanding - the best I've heard in an audible book - his range of voices is consistently brilliant.


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

    Yes - the ending was moving and the big story of the US' conscience and the Vietnam War is revealed superbly in the tale


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Burcin
    Hellerup, Denmark
    12/11/11
    Overall
    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • 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
  • May
    Droitwich, United Kingdom
    4/1/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Mesmerising"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, I would definitely recommend this to a friend who would have the patience to listen to this very long but unforgettable novel. The narration is first class and because it is so good, you can really invest in the characters. Owen's voice is amazing and unforgettable and the 40 year time span of the story brings alive the society, politics and history of this time.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Owen Meany, without a doubt as he makes you believe that there is good still around in the world. He also makes you confront your prejudices and revisit and ask yourself, what kind of person you are! Thank you Owen & John.


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

    He brought the period totally to life and the voices were all different and memorable. His voice had a very warm and non judgmental tone which made you want to invest in the characters. His rendition of 'the voice' was particularly good and I will remember the phrases 'unspeakable outrage' and 'God's instrument', for as long as I live in the squeaky voice of Owen.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    There were many but the totally moving climax at the end of the book moved me to tears and sadness that I would no longer be able to listen to the wonderful Owen & John again.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a very long listen, but totally worth the investment of your time. I tried to read this book, but gave up, so I am so glad that Joe Barratt brought it alive for me and thank you John Irving for having such insight and understanding of belief.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • MRS HEATHER SPEIGHT
    3/24/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Extraordinary!"

    This book got hold of me, drew me in...and it was an unprecedented experience- unpredictable, troubling, disturbing, uncomfortable...and also hugely enjoyable and life-enhancing - in equal measure. It took me over...and took over my days , my nights, my head and my heart. I am still recovering...-and processing it. I may have been permanently changed by it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • John
    2/28/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant"

    The perfect book to be executed in audio. The narrator is really excellent, especially when you consider the task before him of the consistent delivery of that voice! Really brilliant

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Caroline smith
    2/28/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "unable to stop reading"

    good book great storey liked it a lot. characters are interesting and funny but without being silly best book I've read in ages.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sceptic
    London
    2/25/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent book excellently read."
    If you could sum up A Prayer for Owen Meany in three words, what would they be?

    Funny, humane and suited to being read aloud.


    What did you like best about this story?

    This is a character based novel a background of the sociopolitical events and mores of first the 50s then the 60s in america before and after the start of the Vietnam war - but before the full debacle. The narrator also gets to comment on events in the 80s and the corruption and hypocrisy of the great communicator (sic) Reagan. It's a coming of age novel full of poignant portraits and humourous observations and commentary on life.


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

    Owen Meaney (obvs!)


    Any additional comments?

    I really enjoyed it and recommend others to either read or listen to it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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