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.
©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)
Australian, living in beautiful central Victoria. Audio book addict otherwise fairly well balanced.
Ah Owen Meany. I still think it's one of the best books ever written and this superb audio treatment does it justice. Joe Barrett brilliantly captures 'the voice' - such kudos to him for this read. I hope he wins an award for it. If you've read and enjoyed Owen Meany, then you simply must listen to this. If you haven't, I'm jealous. You have a wonderful experience still ahead of you.
I'm always looking for that well written 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.
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 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!
Architectural Photographer based in Florida
What a pleasure it was to listen to Joe Barrett's vocal interpretations of the characters in Irvings wonderful book. I enjoyed the story line and all the characters developed character over time which of course is the essence of a good novel. I miss them all.
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 :)
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.
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.
This book got hold of me, drew me in...and it was an unprecedented experience- unpredictable, troubling, disturbing, uncomfortable...and also hugely enjoyable and life-enhancing - in equal measure. It took me over...and took over my days , my nights, my head and my heart. I am still recovering...-and processing it. I may have been permanently changed by it.
The perfect book to be executed in audio. The narrator is really excellent, especially when you consider the task before him of the consistent delivery of that voice! Really brilliant
"unable to stop reading"
good book great storey liked it a lot. characters are interesting and funny but without being silly best book I've read in ages.
"Excellent book excellently read."
Funny, humane and suited to being read aloud.
This is a character based novel a background of the sociopolitical events and mores of first the 50s then the 60s in america before and after the start of the Vietnam war - but before the full debacle. The narrator also gets to comment on events in the 80s and the corruption and hypocrisy of the great communicator (sic) Reagan. It's a coming of age novel full of poignant portraits and humourous observations and commentary on life.
Owen Meaney (obvs!)
I really enjoyed it and recommend others to either read or listen to it.
"A book made for listening to"
Brilliant narration of a book huge in length and scope. I thought I knew what it would be like, but it defied my expectations in a most gripping way. It managed to be both universal and personal; unusual and familiar. I realise I had unfair prejudices about this author based solely on his American maleness, and will now read more of his work.
"Great story and great narration"
Well above average
Most memorable moment is the nativity scene
More than any other book I've read, the 'sound' of the main character is vital, and it's supposed to be an unusual voice (to say the least - I think in the original his speech is all written all in capitals). Joe Barrett certainly had his work cut out then. The voice could have been just annoying, but he conveyed the character brilliantly and it was consistent throughout
Yes, would have done if I could
"A strange and difficult but compelling story"
As Owen Meany is decribed as having a dreadful voice- a "permenent scream"- I was worried that an audio version of this book would be unbearable to listen to. But Joe Barrett's performance manages to balance listenability and catching enough of Owen's voice to bring hime alive.
Wonderful book, but what really impresses is the narrator. This book is a challenge to narrate: there are a raft of core complex characters who need to be differentiated for the listener and Owen Meany himself is a unique test. I'm glad I had not read any of it beforehand or I may have had a view of how the capitalised text from the book should be rendered for an audio version. But all I can say is that the job done was faultless. This is a powerful but subtle story and to do it justice it needed a strong narrator performance -delivered!
Reading a prayer for Owen Meany was a journey so powerful that I have thought about and missed him every day. I have now listened to this wonderful book and it moved me even more because I knew what was coming.
"A Must for all Fans of American Modern Classics!"
Joe Barrett's tone and delivery are perfect, and the voice of Owen Meany is well interpreted.
I enjoyed this audio-book as much as 'The Book Thief' by Markus Zusak, as the plot is both thoughtful and engaging - beautifully presented by the narrator.
I particularly enjoyed Joe Barrett's performance as Owen Meany, as the character's voice is an important dimension of the plot.
If you had known Owen Meany, would you believe in God?
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.