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 Irvin's book, you'll also get an exclusive Jim Atlas interview that begins when the audiobook ends.
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)
John Irving weaves a series of complex issues into a captivating book. As the story unravels all of the elements come together to a final climax. There are so many leading events that keep you fully engaged in the story until the very end.
John Wheelwright, Owen Meany's best friend, is my favorite character. This character does a wonderful job of explaining Owen's beliefs and behaviors and relating them to how they are perceived by the other characters in the book. I also love the way John questions his own beliefs in light of Owen Meany's truths.
I enjoyed John Wheelwright the most. While Owen Meany's character is captivating, I found his voice to be irritating at times, especially in the beginning. In hindsight, when you learn the truth behind his strange voice, you can better appreciate its purpose.
I could never listen to this book in one sitting because it is quite long and it benefits from taking a break every now and again to reflect on the story as it unfolds. However, as soon as I had finished it, I started re-listening from the beginning to revisit all of the subtle nuances within the story that build toward the wonderfully satisfying ending.
Having read so many books it is often difficult to find one that is not formulaic. John Irving has done a wonderful job of writing a remarkable story that also delivers many non-traditional observations on some very sensitive issues. I loved this book and can hardly wait to read another of John Irving's literary works.
The audio performance adds to the book.
I hear a bit of Garrison Keillor in Lake Woebegone Days in this book, in the element of whistful recollection of a (completely?) fictional past, infused with a good measure of wit. A Prayer for Owen Meany is a modern day Myth, both spiritually and intellectually engaging, with memorable characters and lovely prose. Just try to forget grandmother or Owen Meany! In it's own way, it is a modern Gospel replete with a nativity scene (smirk), miracles, prophecy, paternal and maternal lineage/ identity, death, relationship, and personal spiritual transformation. Other themes include society and class, memory, father/son conflict, morality, mentors, magic weapons, friendship and coming of age, and certainly not least: mortality (indeed, the town is called Gravesend!).
My only criticisms are a) the sometimes meandering nature of the plot, (but then that is true of middle aged to elderly people reflecting on the past and it gives an element of realism in this otherwise mythological story and perhaps this criticism is more a problem with my own impatience than with the story), and b) the death of the mother, which itself seems to be an American literary/ film obsession, in my opinion. I'd really like a modern classic with an unwed or otherwise modern mother/ non-virgin female who does not need to be killed to be redeemed.
I found the protagonist's cousins and grandmother extremely funny.
I both laughed and cried, and was engaged from the first sentence.
Definitely in my list of favourite books.
The characters are well developed in the story. But, let's face it, Joe Barrett's portrayal of Owen's Meany's voice adds an extra dimension to the story that's just missing in print.
The way John's and Owen's childhood lives are portrayed is so "dead on" with reality. Kids have always had to deal with bullies, fault-ridden parents, well-meaning but clueless adults, and what life has dealt them. The dialog between the characters seemed truthful. Not made more or less than it really might have been.
Do you have faith?
I bought this book because it was the third offering in a "buy two, get one free" sale by Audible. Wow, did I luck out! It's now up near the top of the list of my personal favorites.
The characters are so normal and yet extraordinary because the writing is so fine, the characters so keenly drawn with affection and compassion, and the time period was so well depicted that the reader/listener feels as if they are there.
The narration is superb, the vocalization of the various characters is particularly well done.
I adore the movie "Simon Birch" which is a film adaptation rather loosely based on this story. Upon raving about it to a friend, he said, "You should read the original." I've intended to do so for many years, but feared it could not compare to the beauty and depth of "Simon Birch". I was so wrong. "Simon Birch" is fantastic. This is even more moving, even greater depth.
Like??What? What I read is obvious..I am a computer programmer from before we had computers (APL anyone?) I just saw a coyote in our canyon
Tops...but I loved this book for years
None that I didn't write on the previous page.
I would recommend this book without qualification.
It is a wonderful story in print, however, its narration takes it to another higher level.
I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to it on my regular walks and quite often I have had
to stop walking because of laughing.
I will continue to enjoy my Audible downloads, however, I have no real expectations that
I will ever enjoy another book to the extent that I have enjoyed this one.
I wish that I had the answer to this!
Not that I am aware of.
No, as I enjoyed the anticipation of my next listen.
Well done to all concerned.
l loved this book and would most definitely read it again. l got lost In the characters and was so sorry when l finished reading. A good read ,what this is all about.
The mother really interested me and l Would love to find out more.
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.
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