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.
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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)
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 read alot and listen to alot of audio books. When I listen to a book like "A Prayer for Owen Meany", I realize just how average most books are - good but not great. This book was GREAT!
I will definitely listen to this again, and maybe even purchase the hardcopy; although the narration was so wonderful that I'm not sure reading it would be the same as listening.
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.
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.
I found this audiobook to be a most entertaining book. There wasn't a dull character, or a dull chapter, or a dull scene anywhere to be heard. I didn't want it to end. I laughed and cried and managed to feel every emotion in between. High marks for the narrator, too. He was terrific.
54-year-old community college IT instructor. Over 500 titles in "My Library."
I would give the author and narrator 4 stars. However, my appeal for this story was 2 stars. So, I give an overall average of 3 stars.
I can see why some people liked this book. However, from my perspective, the story was too slow, too Bible-oriented, and too church-oriented. I also got "disoriented" with the constant jumping forward and backward in time. About a third into the second part (around 8.5 hours total invested time) I decided that I was not enjoying this series of short stories enough to keep listening. I was ready to move on to another book.
This might be categorized as a "faith-based" novel that would remind some people of The Mitford Series of books by Jan Karon. I found At Home in Mitford much more entertaining than A Prayer for Owen Meany.
So, I would only recommend this book for listeners that find this kind of writing enjoyable. It's a long ride. Not everyone will find the seat comfortable.
John Irving is an outstanding wordsmith and storyteller. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this very well crafted and entertaining story exceptionally narated by Joe Barrett. Very entertaining! I'm hoping Audible will make the many other books written by John Irving available soon. More Joe Barrett too please :)
A well written book is a gem.
I savored every moment of this book. Yes, it's long, but you are listening to the work a master craftsman and it's read to you by Joe Barrett who absolutely nails it. It is also about religion and predestination and I am not at all a religious person. But the story is a great examination on religion or what makes us religious. I was at first put off by the opening chapter and the narrator's easy familiarity with his religion. But while the story at first sounds like an endorsement on religion it reveals itself otherwise as the many elements of the characters and the story unfold. There is a great undercurrent of humor and irony though out this religious examination that made the story compelling to me.
In listening to John Irving's interview at the end, he says his premise for writing the book was to ask, "What would it take to believe in God? What would you have to witness before you could be a believer?" The character of Owen Meany and his story challenge us with that premise. Enjoy the ride.
I read quite a bit of the book, but just didn't like it. Because of all the good reviews, I kept making myself go back to it but finally gave up torturing myself. I didn't like the story line (really had trouble finding one) or the main character. To me, it was a very wierd book about a very wierd main character. Maybe if I had finished it, I would have felt differently, but it just wasn't worth the angst in order to do so.
"Not long enough!"
Memorable, moving and entertaining
I have yet to find a book that compares to this. It manages to be both gripping and matter of fact at the same time
The Voice! It perfectly evokes the image of a tiny man with a huge effect on all around him
This book took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions, from sadness and outrage to laugh out loud joy
This is one of the first audible books I listened to. Some 200 books later I have still not found a more entertaining novel. If I could, I would make it required listening for all Audible members
This is absolutely my favourite audiobook so far. I could not wait to return to it and was so sad when I realised I would no longer hear Owen Meany's voice.
Only Joe Barrett could make Owen Meany so mesmerising
A faultless book that makes you laugh out loud and cry your heart out. An impeccable production of a life changing book.
The brilliant plot, the engaging characters, Irving's superb writing ability - I could go on forever. Do try to read this original and remarkable story. As others have said, it will stay with you for a long time.
This is a secret to be discovered if you have not already read it, It is brilliant, the story, the narrator, everything. I recommend it highly, and Owen Meany will stay with you for a long time. I am definitely going to get another book by Johns Irving, Don't miss this diamond story.
I rarely write reviews of the audiobooks I have listened to, but in this case I feel compelled to say how much I enjoyed it. It is now several weeks since I finished listening and the character of Owen Meany is still with me. I think this is because he was such a compelling character but it is also a tribute to the narrator and his ability to portray 'the voice'. There were a few points where I felt the story was developing rather slowly but when I look back I realise how important all elements were. It took me a long time to be able to listen to another book afterwards as I felt almost as if I had lost a friend.
"I love this audible book"
I had been trying to read the book for my book club but could not get into it. I could not imagine Owen's voice or understand why it was always written in capital letters. This audible really brought the characters to life and I laughed and cried my way through it.
this is a beautifully written piece. First quarter is so interesting as Owen is developed alongside other characters. The second half of the novel can feel long winded but is worth sticking out to the end. Irving writes his books from the end of to the beginning and i was glad I stuck the last half out as the plot comes tragically and poetically together in the end it may bring you to tears.
"Old Time America..... a beautiful book..."
A beautiful story, yet meandering and possibly too slow and long for some - but I loved it - please try and bear with it. The characters are marvellous, and I didn't want it to end. It will live with me.
I think that should I have picked this book up to read I might have become a bit bored, but the narration by Joe Barrett is nothing short of Diva performance...absolutely excellent- and I can't help thinking that he probably loves this book as much as me.
I highly recommend it.
This was a wonderful reading of a modern classic, capturing the idiosyncratic nature of Owen, his relationship with his best friend John and the humour, exasperation and sadness of the novel with perfection
"Can you ever forget Owen Meany"
This is a brilliant narration of an excellent book! I read it about ten years ago and loved it, and wasn't sure if an audio version could improve it. I was totally captivated!! Owen Meany really does come to life!! An unforgettable character perfectly portrayed!
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