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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.

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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  •  
    Evelyn J Martin San Antonio, TX, US 10-26-12
    Evelyn J Martin San Antonio, TX, US 10-26-12 Member Since 2012

    I am an avid mystery/thriller, historical fiction and political fiction listener. I listen while working (I am a remodeling contractor).

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    "Unexpected Like!"
    If you could sum up A Prayer for Owen Meany in three words, what would they be?

    Left me crying.


    What did you like best about this story?

    How involved Irving got the reader with this cast of characters.


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

    Oh so many but I would have to pick Paul Owen Meany.


    If you could take any character from A Prayer for Owen Meany out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    I think John would be my dinner pick because I would like to know more about his emotional relationship with Owen, and I think we could talk for hours about his life in New England and Canada.


    Any additional comments?

    You know, when you're reading a book and you know what's going to happen and you know it's going to hurt but you just can't quite reading and can't seem to turn the pages fast enough...well that is exactly what happens with a Prayer for Owen Meany. John Irving's writing and Joe Barrett's narration were great. This was an unexpected pleasure!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K 10-23-12
    K 10-23-12
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    "Great Book, Fantastic Reader"

    Probably Irving's best work. I've read this book a few times and was concerned that Owen's voice would not work as a audiobook but man was I worried for nothing. The narrator does a brilliant job of bringing this book and especially Owen to life. Great story, beautifully written with a depth and a real search for truth in the characters that makes this well worth the time invested.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Seattle, WA, United States 10-23-12
    Laura Seattle, WA, United States 10-23-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Yes, listen to this book"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    A Prayer For Owen Meany is both one of my favorite books, and one of my favorite audio books. It's the kind of book that reminds me why I read fiction, why I love stories. I think it's Irving's best book. Hilarious, sad, and very human. If you love good stories, you'll love this one. Barrett is an excellent narrator, and (as I believe) a quality book in the hands of a quality narrator becomes even better.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul 10-19-12
    Paul 10-19-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Narrator brings a masterpiece to life"
    If you could sum up A Prayer for Owen Meany in three words, what would they be?

    Powerful, redemptive, darkly funny


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

    Owen's dual performances as The Prince of Peace and The Ghost of Christmas Future stand out as one of the most ingenious, hilarious, memorable,and celebratory literary experiences I have ever had. The narrator is masterful at conveying all of Irving's dark irony.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is an example of one of Audible's main benefits for me: allowing or "forcing" me to read fine, powerful books that, for one reason or the other, I never got around to reading. (Other examples include "The Poisonwood Bible" and "The Kiterunner.") It was obvious from the opening paragraphs that I was going to enjoy this reading of an American masterpiece.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    10-17-12
    10-17-12 Listener Since 2010
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    "Languid"
    Any additional comments?

    Listening to this book is like taking a leisurely boat trip down a beautiful stream. You never want it to end so you don't pick up the oars. Some may think it is too slow, but who cares how long it takes when it is so gorgeous.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine 10-06-12
    Christine 10-06-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Still Haunts Me a Little"
    What did you love best about A Prayer for Owen Meany?

    The naration of this book is perfect. I have even told friends who would prefer to read the book, that they must listen to a snipet of the audio version first so that they can know Owen's voice!


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

    This isn't a book that you can listen to in one sitting because of its length, and it does at times feel long and drawn out, so you will probably appreciate a break. However, you must come back for more!!


    Any additional comments?

    I sometimes wondered why the story was so long and where it was going - basically I felt occassionlly impatient, but that said, I was completely drawn into Owen Meanys world. If Owen wasn't the main charater in a chapter I couldn't wait for him to reappear. It has been months now since I have heard this book but I can remember all the characters as if they were real people and I still feel a little heart broken whenever I think about this book - in a good way! Why it touched me so much I have not been able to fathom!!!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Waltham, MA, United States 10-06-12
    Mark Waltham, MA, United States 10-06-12 Member Since 2010

    MTF

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    "A bit dated, but still Irving at his best"

    This story is about Owen Meany, an undersized, screech-voiced character who is one of my all time favorite characters in fiction. The narrator, John Wheelwright, is Owen's best friend from their childhood in the '50s through the "present" (the 1980's). This is the rare novel where the narrator is not a major character, but seeing Owen Meany through his eyes makes Owen and the story come alive. The Vietnam War looms largely in this novel, as does religion. Faith, in an original perspective, is truly at the center of this story. A vision while acting in A Christmas Carol rules Owen's life. It's about school life - from a private high school in New Hampshire to college life in the Vietnam War era to teaching at a boarding school in Canada. When I read this in the '80's, it became one of my all-time favorite novels. Listening to it 25 years later, it felt a tiny bit dated, and some parts dragged a little, yet much of it remained powerful. John Irving's novels always have wit but sometimes lack heart. Not so with this. In addition, the ending of this remains amazing - one of the great novel endings. I finished it a few days ago, but think about Owen Meany a lot. Finally, the narrator is phenomenal!!! He perfectly captures both the narrator John Wheelwright, Owen Meany, and the tone of the novel. He is very easy to listen to.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 10-04-12
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 10-04-12 Member Since 2014

    An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.

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    "I love John Irving and Owen Meany!"
    Where does A Prayer for Owen Meany rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the very best! The narrator was delightful and got Owen's and Grandmother's voices just right. I still get the goosebumps when I hear him.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The character development was engrossing. In the beginning I disliked Owen, then I almost hated him, but then as I understood what his life was like and what his beliefs were, I was overcome with love for him. Just like Hester, the molester!


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

    Owen Meany was the most complex character I can ever remember. Joe Barrett was wonderful in giving the "Voice", voice. I don't think I have ever listened to another of Joe Barrett's works but I will look for more now.


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

    The ending where everything Owen believed in is put on the line and he doesn't disappoint. It made me cry!


    Any additional comments?

    This is a wonderful book and now that I have rediscovered John Irving I will read them all! (I haven't read any of his works since "The World According to Garp" which I loved too.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon 10-03-12
    Sharon 10-03-12

    I love to listen or read books...I have always got one or two books on the go at any one time. I am happily married, and live a quiet life.

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    "Not my cup of tea..."

    I was charmed at some of the comical parts, but overall, I was always waiting for something more to happen. I found it long and drawn out... but thats just my opinion, perhaps I like more action in my books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carlo Hagemann the Netherlands 09-30-12
    Carlo Hagemann the Netherlands 09-30-12 Member Since 2012

    I love to listen to American books. Following the plot, keeping track of personal developments and intrigues while walking two miles to work

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    "Owen Meany as it should be"
    If you could sum up A Prayer for Owen Meany in three words, what would they be?

    Great novel, GREAT VOICE!!!


    Any additional comments?

    A Prayer for Owen Meany has become one of my favorite books years ago, when I read it. A couple of times I've been thinking to read it again, but lack of time withheld me from doing so.
    Now I've listened to the Audiobook, all the fond memories of the written book came back: the funny characters, the armadillo, the baseball, and above all the complex structure that Irving has put his novel in, but that one does not experience as complex. The book just works out!

    And, as mentioned by other reviewers, this book should be listened too, thanks to the gritty voice of Owen Meany. Thank you Joe Barrett

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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