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)
The unusual story and "The Voice".
All of his different voices and his interpretation of Owen's voice.
I have not read the print version but the use of different voices by the reader enhanced the book for me.
This is a book that celebrated friendship and courage. It demonstrates constantly that self worth is not dependent on outward appearance or social status. A wonderful object lesson for our time. The story twists and turns and is revealed in stages captivating the listener' attention till you become wholly involved in the book and cannot stop listening. I loved it and it well deserves it's place on the BBC top 100 book list.
Wonderful. This book is completely dependent on the physical voice of the main character. It must have been very difficult to achieve and he did it marvelously.
Owen Meany of cause.
I would listen to this book again. The narrator absolutely brought this story to life.
This is a very touching story about Owen Meany and how he touched the lives of others. It is poignant as well as hilariously funny. The story absolutely draws you in and you become part of it.
Joe Barrett brought every sentence to life. This is the BEST narration I have heard, and I have listened to more than 50 books. He is never monotonous or "just reading the words". I am absolutely sure that I would not have enjoyed this book as much had I read it. Listening to Joe brought it to life.
I suppose Owen - he was the one that had such an effect on everyone's life.
I would in a few years. It's long, but it's a great story with a perfect narrator.
The story, the characters, the anticipation, the plot twists.
I have not, but he is my favorite narrator so far.
I laughed many times. I cried a few times. Lovely story with so many great characters.
Get it. You won't be sorry.
One of the very best.
When he was the baby of Jesus.
Have not read the book.
Owen Meany. Like his character and personality.
I am not one to give up on listening to a story but this one felt like a soap opera that never ended about two boys.....After 8 hours invested into the story I gave up! This is a first for me.
Maybe there was a meaning I did not catch but reliving a child's life is not my idea of good
The voices. You've gotta hear Owen Meany's voice!! It makes the whole listening experience that much better. A well performed story!
The intrigue. I loved how the author jumped around the giving small glimpses of each character.
I haven't but it makes me want to find others.
It was, but that would be impossible it was very long but well worth it.
Someone else said how they wished it was more, more story. It makes you want to continue to hear about these peoples lives. I cried near the end; how it all came together. While I don't totally agree with the authors view of religion per say, it did move me in the way Owen allowed himself to be used. That is the real Love of God exhibited. He loved others more than himself!GREAT FREAKIN' BOOK!
Not using endless "he said, she said, he said, she said..." in dialogues
I am trying to return this book
Exhilarating, encompassing, emotional
2 books actually - It has the breadth and characterisations also found in John Irving's 'World According to Garp'; similar off-beat, although believable people walk through both books.And it calls back to, unsurprisingly, to Gunter Grass' 'The Tin Drum', although it is much more positive and hopeful than Grass's book. The significance of being so much smaller than everyone else around him, lets Oskar, like Owen, see the world so differently.
Joe Bennett absolutely enlivens Owen Meany. His performance of The Voice was astounding.
I would really like to meet John Wainwright's mother, Tabitha. There is something hidden about her, but I loved her sense of openness (other than telling who John''s father was) and she seemed to like herself. Certainly she loved her son, and that appealed to me.
Grandmother Wainwright is possibly a model for me to consider as I age - her stubbornness and determination to do just exactly as she wanted to do. But she also seemed to me to be very accepting of difference in others - she may neither like nor approve of their behaviour, but I didn't think she ever rejected anyone.
"An amazing and memorable book"
I've read two other novels by the author and hoped that this book would be as good. I wasn’t disappointed: it’s a remarkable creation that will stick in my mind for a long time.
I didn’t want it to end. It starts as a story of small town America and then diverges in all directions as the eponymous Owen and his close friend John grow from boyhood to manhood and we get to know their families, foibles and achievements. On the back of their story, populated by many larger than life characters, the author lets his imagination rip as he contemplates questions of morality, religion, politics, loyalty, love, war and patriotism to name but a few of the myriad of topics that enrich this marvellous book that tugs at the emotions but also very funny at times. Owen Meany is an extraordinary creation. Never exceeding 5 feet tall with a voice that has hasn’t broken he dominates the book and all around him. The narrator gives him such a memorable voice:, a cross between Twittie Pie and Donald Duck, that makes him endearing but not one to be pitied: he is an heroic character.
The narrator is outstanding and brought the characters to life in this memorable book.
"Just listen - it will captivate you"
Let it just keep going, because the start is a little slow. It's long - and it will be worth every minute of your time.
Beautiful writing, and such expert narration.
Sad and sobering though some of the story is, it's not written in a way that cynically tries to milk the pathos. In fact, most of the sad incidents are dealt with in such a matter-of-fact way, it helps you to deal with it, too. It is also a very funny book, with sly, sideways humour and sometimes some pure slapstick comic passages.
I really did love this boo and was very sad to leave it.
"An Oscar for Joseph Barrett."
Joe Barrett deserves an award for his beautiful reading of this beautiful book. (that's only 13 words)
"A moving masterpiece."
A beautifully crafted, funny, heartbreaking work of genius from a world-class writer at the top of his game, A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of those books that simply defies easy description.
It's about angels. And armadillos. THE VOICE. An armless Indian and an headless Holy Goalie. A lethal baseball, a Christmas pageant baby Jesus, and the precise connection between what the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come saw on a cardboard tombstone and the burned and blistered corpse of a helicopter pilot killed in Vietnam. Through all the quirky characters and masterful plotting, however, at its heart, A Prayer for Owen Meany is about family, friendship, community, and what it really means to be a hero.
Narrator, Joe Barret's, pitch perfect reading captured the spirit and voice of each unforgettable character, including that of Owen Meany, whose screeching, grating, damaged voice is portrayed in the novel in full caps. Somehow Barret accomplishes this feat in such a way that he fully embodies Owen's unforgettable voice, yet is still easy on the ears of audio book listeners.
This Audible version of A Prayer for Owen Meany made me laugh, made me fall in love with Owen Meany and, ultimately, broke my heart. When the book was over, I missed Owen, as if I'd known him.
"Stunningly well written & read"
Not my usual cup of tea, but 'A Prayer for Owen Meany' builds up over the length of the book into a great mix of characters and plots.
Throughout the entire storyline there are beautiful little references to seemingly innocuous past events, with the smallest details weaving such a wonderful picture, leaving the reader (listener) with a clarity of what this world looks like and what the people are like, but still allowing the imagination to form the shapes.
I wished my drive to work was longer so I could have listened to more in one go, and in fact there were occasions that I took a 'long-cut' just to hear a particular story line thread play out!
It is to a budding novelist as a Mozart concerto is to a wannabe musician who has just picked up a tambourine... You think you'd like to try your hand at writing, then you see this and realise what a really good author can produce.
I'm a great fan of the Jason Bourne series, and John Le Carre is by far my favourite author of a book series or genre, but Owen Meany is that exception to the rule. Truly mesmerising.
"This is what audiobooks are for!"
What a treat. It's long but I would have rather it hadn't ended... An immersive experience
I would listen to Owen Meany again and I plan to. I read this book many years ago and was delighted to see it on Audible. To listen to it was so pleasurable and delightful.The narrator is really really good. Now I am looking for everything else he has done!
Owen Meany is the heart of it and the ending is just so surprising, I was on the edge of my seat and so affected for days.
It certainly made me cry.
"Will stay with me forever"
I have not read the print version
The nativity play and the car in the school made me laugh out loud.
The pathos throughout
I was desperately ill in hospital for about 3 months. Every evening I was able to listen to this book and shut out what was going on around me. It kept me sane.
They were all equally brilliant
Read it certainly but Joe Barratt's voice lulled me and enticed me like I was listening to an old friend. A very moving book.
"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.
"An excellent book on all levels"
It is well written, the story is very good and, mostly through the character Owen Meany, the book makes lots of important points about the absurdity of many aspects of life. I thoroughly recommend.
Joe Barrett is a good reader too.
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