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)
I liked this book-I never loved this book. I liked the story and narration, I liked the writing and underlying ideas. If it was half as long it wouldn't have been so deep and involved but would have advanced the story. I think that would have hurt the writer's vision. Stll, for me, I got deep into it and prayed for it to be over. I feel a bit bad about that. It was good, but not my style. It superficially presents one burning question and in the end answers it. That was what got me and held me til the end. Had it not intrigued me I might well have given up. As you see, I am conflicted. I liked it. I didn't like it's length. I'm sure I'm just not literate enough to have been deeply involved throughout. I could hear the first couple hours and the last couple and get about as much--but that's me. I liked it- I never loved it. Now I know.
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.
I think you are a brilliant storyteller and writer Mr Irving, but get on with the story because your rambling on with Owen just got on my nerves. Sorry, I just shut it off with a loooong breakdown during the Christmas play rehearsals and the importance of details of baby Jesus or angels or whatever... It felt like empty filler paper.
This book would definately rate in my top 5. The narration was wonderful and Owen leaves his print in your heart.
I listened to this book because it was being read for a faculty book club. This was my first John Irving book and I found myself captivated - stopping occasionally to text someone else who had read the book to share I thought or question I had.
The narration is wonderful. I was worried at first that Owen's voice would become tiresome, but it doesn't.
This is one of those books that I'll seek out a hardcover copy of for my personal collection.
NV, not NY
In reviewing other Irving books some listeners stated that they weren't as good as A Prayer for Owen Meany, so I was looking forward to finally getting around to it. Although enjoyable, APFOM was probably my least favorite. If you've never read/listened to an Irving book before, I'd suggest Until I Find You. If you like it, consider yourself lucky - you've got a lot great Irving books awaiting.
I don't know why I hadn't read this book before. If I had, I would have anticipated this recording eagerly. The book is wonderful. Irving's masterful writing spirals around, dropping hints, showing tidbits, keeping the reader 'turning pages' in rapture.
Thought provoking and inspiring, the ideas will stay with you after the book is finished, but it is also just downright entertaining.
I think the narration is perfectly matched to the writing and makes the book all the more personal and powerful. The editing is flawless!
I liked this book, I can't say I didn't. I think my problem was that it was just a little too long... and that's coming from someone who looks for the longest books possible! I started to get bored 3/4 of the way through - maybe it was too repetitive, maybe it was 'the voice' I couldn't handle anymore. I don't know. I stopped reading it and read another book, then went back to finish it.
I didn't read this book before listening to it, so I don't know if I would have felt differently if I had. I know I had heard of it before and all indications were that it was a great book. It was good; just not great.
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.
I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY - This is without a doubt the most conflicted review I've written. Having just concluded the book with its stellar ending, I'm inclined to rate it a 10, but I cannot forget how I literally suffered through about 90% of the story. Another reviewer of this book said something like "This story is for listeners who like to ramble in rich characters and funny events." So true. The themes switch back and forth between criticism of American politics and the Vietnam war, religion, friendship and the coming of age of the main characters in small town USA. There is not an obvious plot that continues to progress, just hours of character development and hints that Owen is different and very special.
Johnny, Owen's best friend, tells the story, and they are about 10 years old at the beginning. Their pre-adolescent viewpoints and antics will make you chuckle, and as they mature their close friendship continues. The last several hours of the story when loose ends FINALLY start to come together are surprisingly powerful. You will see how special Owen really is, and the deeper messages of the book become clear. The problem for me is it was just way, way, way, way, way too long.
NARRATOR - The narration was adequate. Owen's voice as described in the story is high-pitched and irritating, and it definitely was performed well. Sometimes Owen's high voice would pop into the middle of a sentence for only one word. It's as if that word was typed in quotes for special emphasis but the narrator read it in Owen's voice by mistake. That was a constant distraction, IMHO.
OVERALL - Again, I'm conflicted, but I would probably not recommend this book. It's just too long. If it were only, say, 10 hours in length, I would say to download it immediately. (Be sure to listen to at least the beginning of the author interview at the end. There are some very vague, subtle hints of something throughout the book which is really not clear until you hear it from the author's lips in this interview.)
I love audiobooks, sometimes they fail to be as good as the print version, this is not the case, it is long but worth the listen
it is great as a whole
yes if I had 48hours to sit!!!
It is long but holds you right the way through, john irving at his best.
I had difficulty with the "Voice" at first, I am so glad I gave it another go, I can't tell you how much it touched me. Owen Meany had unshakeable faith, was so sure of himself. He made his world a better place so gently. Listening felt just like eavesdropping on something so real and personal I wanted to join in, Owen was my friend. The writing was seamless, the narration was amazing, it is true this book needs to be listened to for the full effect. I mourn the end of this book and will listen again and again. This review cannot do justice to either John Irving or Joe Barrett but I urge you to listen and have Owen Meany as your friend.
"Compelling book, excellently narrated"
The fantastic writing from first to last. The great descriptive episodes like the Nativity play, Owen's introduction to the family, and the boys' journey through education, add to the compelling narrative of Owen's - and America's - journey. The narration was faultless.
The way the narrative built and built, never losing interest, and only giving enough away about the end result to add even more to the compelling listen...
This is the first Joe Barrett narration I have heard.
I was never likely to have 27 hours to spare, but a few very long cycle rides and car journeys sped by while I listened!
John Irving has occupied a special place in the pantheon of mainstream american writers for many years; however I would regard " A Prayer for Owen Meany" as a 20th century masterpiece.
This may seem obvious to those who have had the pleasure of reading/ listening to this wonderful tale,but for those who have yet to immerse themselves I would say do so, you will only benefit from the experience.
It takes the reader on a journey of childhood,through adolescence into adulthood and never in an expected way. The experience of religious belief and mysticism is most convincing . Owen Meany is a force to be reckoned with. His is a faithful,complex personality that it is a sheer joy to spend time with.
The one thing that sets the audio version above the written word is the voice. Owen Meany has a remarkable voice and the narration by Joe Barrett is an acting tour de force. His vocal impression of Owen drives the story in a way that lifts it above the norm.
Listen to this and wonder. You will laugh and yes, maybe cry,I know I shed a tear or two. I have spent a lifetime reading but this novel is on of the unforgettable ones. Thank you John Irving.
"I can still here the voice."
I love this story, it is wholly unique and surprising and is about such a small and yet big idea that it knocks your socks off. Read this story.
I just wish it were true.. I know its not, but it has embedded itself into my mind as if it is. In senility in years to come i'll tell people about little Owen, and his strange life.
"difficult to go through"
There is an interesting story in this book but really really taking long time to get through. I rather preferred reading the book instead of listening then I could skip some pages more quickly. I am in the last 6 hours and feeling like I can't breathe anymore while trying to get it done. Narration is excellent, the accents are very well done, story is good but unnecessarily long.
"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.
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