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.
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.
“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)
Although the author uses a lot of foreshadowing and imagery techniques throughout the novel, it is the story and narration that make it an outstanding book for me. The narrator's voice for Owen Meany is annoying at times, but it is essential to the story.
The book grabbed me from the start and it was very hard to put down. I had never listened to or read a John Irving novel, but I have now added more to my wish list.
I think when you get to hour 11 in an audio book, and find yourself tthinking... OK, What's the point? Or, please stop describing the minutia of Church Christmas Plays, because you're not sufficiently compelled to read-on, it's time to abort. I chose this book due to the critical acclaim. I applaud the descriptive narrative. However, if there ever was a point or plot to this book, it was lost on me. Surely, the 10 hours that I "forced" myself to hang in for, could have been downsized to a couple of hours. That said, I wonder ... without having completed this book, how much the remaining 16 plus hours or so could have been condensed. The narration was terrific, but I jumped ship in favor or the cliff-notes version to discover some kind of meaning in all the babble.
I am an Australian woman who enjoys reading many different styles of books, from history to sci fi and mystery to poetry. I also love to listen to the same whilst not paying attention to other things. I aim for my reviews to be short and succinct so that they are easy to read.
I truly loved this story and the narration is wonderful, the narrator captures nearly all of the characters beautifully.
Worth every minute of the time I spent listening to it. It isn't likely that I would have picked it up and read it, but since Joe Barrett was narrating and the description and many of the reviews piqued my interest. I decided to get the Audible version. Made a great choice, this time. Maybe it helped that I am a native of small town New England, myself or that the
two main protagonists are within a year or two of being my age. Also the "major"
events that affected them, affected me, as well. The novel was a sort of personal homecoming. But, besides those elements, Irving seems to be a very good writer who
knows how to keep a reader involved in his work for hours and hours. Nor does
he ever disappoint with sloppy transitions, simpleton characters or artificial plot
contrivances. Not that some of his ideas don't stretch things more than a bit. But he
always manages to pull these bits off very nicely. How he tells the reader what happens
at the end before the book is halfway through and still manages to keep one in total
suspense is absolutely masterly. And Joe Barret is one of, if not the best American narrator I've ever heard. (Try "Streets of Loredo" by Larry McMurtry for another great
Joe Barrett narration.)
This novel will not be universally appreciated, I believe. But I thought it was
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.
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.
Powerful, redemptive, darkly funny
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!!
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!!!
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.
"Brilliant narration of a wonderful novel"
I have always loved this book and the narration is superlative, adding to the marvellous characters which inhabit this novel. Laugh out loud funny and doesn't detract at all from your imagining of Owen and the inhabitants of Gravesend.
Highly recommended. Quirky, humourous and beautifully written. Love it!
"Magnificent book, beautifully read."
A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of my all time favourite novels, so I approached this audio version with a little trepidation: how was the narrator going to do THE VOICE. I need not have feared: Joe Barrett is superb. It is clear from the reading that the narrator is on Irving's wavelength and all of the characters spring to life from the ipod as much as they did from the page and if anything the narration adds a new dimension to the book.
I cannot recommend this highly enough.
"A Prayer for Owen Meany"
This was absolutely superb. Myself and my wife had both read the story about ten years ago, but still throroughly enjoyed this audiobook. The reader was superb and his characterisation was a real addition to the book. If you've not heard or read the book yourself, I'd throughly recommend this. Friends have said it is their favourite story and I'm planning on making a gift of the audiobook to them, which shows the quality.
"A PRAISE FOR OWEN MEANY"
This audio book was recommended to me and I was new to John Irving. The novel is compelling and carries you through the life of the narrator from his early years to middle age jumping from the past to the present.
Joe Barrett reads this beautifully. It is crystal clear and the listener is carried through the story by his wonderful reading. Owen Meaney himself has to have a very distinct voice and Barrett creates a character with truth and credibility.
A fantastic, absorbing novel enhanced by being so well read.
"The best audio book Ive listened to."
This was by far the best audio book I've listened to to date and I've listened to quite few. From start to finish a clever and sustained narrative beautify told by the author and the reader. I didn't want it to end. I want to listen to it again soon.
Having read the previous reviews, I was very disappointed with this audiobook. I found the story excessively long and had to force myself to finish listening to it, as I did not want to have wasted the time I had already invested in it. However, I am not sure it was worth it, and with hindsight I would have given up after a few hours. It is well written, but there does not seem to me to be enough character development or storyline to require the 27 hours of text. I read the Wikipedia entry for the book and they summarised everything that happened on one relatively short page! There is nothing terrible about the book, but there is really nothing great about it either. I could have definitely spent 27 hours more profitably!
I read the book maybe 20 years ago and it has always been my favourite novel.
The reading was fantastic. I feel as though I actually know Owen and John by the end. It is probably the most moving book I have ever encountered.
Buy it. Now!
"A Prayer for Owen Meany"
One of the most complete books ever written. So, sad, funny and horrific, To say more would spoil the story. Enjoy falling in love with Owen Meany.
"Captivating, and extremely thought provoking"
Have just finished this book, and don't think I've ever read a book which has preoccupied my thoughts as much as this has, there's so much in it to think about, I want to start it again and listen to all 26 marvellous hours of it all over again. It is narrated perfectly - I often find it a bit irritating when narraters put on different voices for different characters, in this book it is done beautifully, especially the grandmother!
"A prayer for Owen Meany"
This was absolutly brilliant! Better than reading it. Joe did such a good job of making Owen real. I had read the book twice before and am a big John Irving fan, I wish there were more of his books on Audible. I have read Son of a Circus too.
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