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)
I have listened to many books in the past but this has to be the best in my estimation. John Irving is a genius and Joe Barrett reads this book to perfection. A totally mesmerising story that has weaved its magic into my soul; I will be thinking about these complex characters for years to come. I will be downloading more of this author and will look for other books by this reader. Thank you John Irving
I listen to a lot of books while i drive my roadtrain in Western Australia, it keeps me going through the long nights. When I got this book I was a little concerned with its length and seemingly lack of interest in the plot etc.. Well all I can say is the narrator was fantastic and the story was great, quite often i wanted to sit in my truck after arriving at my destination after a 12 hour shift to listen to a bit more.
I have always enjoyed John Irving's writing, but I haven't read anything by him in many years. This book did not disappoint.John Irving's has a wonderful skill of turning a phrase and makes the common ideas seem ridiculous and is always questioning convention. Brilliant! Joe Barrett's narration of this book is also brilliant. The range he uses to individualize each character enables the listener to "see" each character individually. I was a little skeptical to buy this book since I love John Irving and I didn't want the narration to "ruin" the story. I am enjoying this production tremendously and will encourage anyone to give it a listen.
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
If I could choose one phrase to summarize this masterpiece, I couldn't do better than the title of Jan's review - "Not written - crafted...exquisitely" (nicely said, Jan!). Although APFOM has an interesting plot and a shattering ending, if you read this book just for the story, you will miss the best part; APFOM is truly a modern classic with some of the best and most engaging use of literary devices and provocative thought I've ever seen. To list a few:
1. Enveloping and evocative use of setting - both historical and geographic - to set the tone and pacing
2. Masterful use of the first person form. First person is challenging when you want to portray detail for many characters. A Prayer not only provides detail characterization for a great cast of eccentrics, its primary protagonist is not the POV character. In lesser hands, the reader would not be able to relate to Owen Meany with all his strangeness when portrayed only from the POV of his friend, John Wheelwright, but Irving not only slowly makes you understand Owen, but truly love him.
3. Foreshadowing, allusion, and symbolism so subtle and finely woven into the narrative that you will not realize until the ending that you have been told repeatedly what is going to happen and still the ending is gut-wrenching and shocking and inevitable.
4. Some of the most insightful commentary on religion and faith that I have ever read in fiction. The beautiful, tragic, and repulsive aspects of religion are all woven into this narrative with little jewels of wisdom scattered throughout. One of my favorite quotes, "My belief in God disturbs and unsettles me much more than not believing ever did. Unbelief seems vastly harder to me now than belief does, but belief poses so many unanswerable questions." In the end, A Prayer is a real tribute to active Faith.
I read the book many years ago when it was first published and I think it can be advantageous to see this book in print to understand how Irving wrote it (Owen's dialog is in all caps and Irving often throws a word said in Owen's voice into the middle of John's sentences) so you will appreciate the phenomenal narrative interpretation of the book by Joe Barrett - truly an outstanding performance of a challenging book. I have had a permanent place on my bookshelves for APFOM for years, but not re-read it just because the ending is hard. However, I couldn't resist the audiobook when it was on sale and now I realize I should have picked it up long ago because it is more than worth full price. If you have read the book, I strongly encourage you to listen to the audiobook - you will not be disappointed. And, Irving packs so much beautiful prose and food for thought in this book, it is one that really should be read or heard more than once.
The best! If you have or have not read the print version of A Prayer for Owen Meany by all means get this. This reader, Joe Barrett, gives believable life to the characters. ESPECIALLY OWEN'S. This is a bucket list read.
Excellent narration of a difficult subject - how to reproduce "The Voice" of Owen Meany - it could have been irritating but Joe Barrett has succeeded in making it believable.
John Irving has everything in this story - growing up, family life, tragedy, mystery, politics, religion, faith and humour.
I love this book.
When the helplessness of certain characters, the weirdness of Owen, the sad death of a young woman become qualities on which this intricate and incredibly clever story is based, you can only raise your hat. The suspense with which you wait for the end may well keep you up - like me - for hours...
I love books!
I considered reading this book some years ago but couldn't get into the premise of a little leaguer's foul ball killing the mother of his best friend and how it affected their lives. For some reason I was ready for it now. I know John is a great writer and this is a great book. If you grew up in the Vietnam era or are interested in a book with that in the background of two kids growing up in New Hampshire, you'll like this book. It's an intellectual, thought provoking story.
Avid audible listener for over 10 years.
John Irving is not for everyone, and if you have not listened to one of books choose this one. If not this one, then Cider House Rules. I have over 500 books in my Audible library and this by far is my favorite. John Irving books are by no means" thrillers", but the characters he creates are memorable, especially Owen Meany. Sad, funny, poignant this book should be on everyone's list of great American fiction. Told during the turbulent 60s the book is set in a small town in NH and follows the life of the main character (narrator) and Owen Meany, who is deformed in body but not in spirit . The ending will bring tears to your eyes:
And they were also lifting up Owen Meany, taking him out of our hands. O God -- please give him back! I shall keep asking You."
"A Prayer for Owen Meany"
great book, lovely narration, a fantastic way to spend 26hrs.
though is just shame a about the music. particularly at the end, as it kicks in when you are lost in the story and it brings you round like a slap the face just when you want to be left with your thoughts. why is it there ? as you can tell it has left an unfortunate final impression on this version. this is as shame as otherwise I loved this book.
"Stay with it - a masterpiece."
Yes - the central character is just so captivating as is the book's narrator.
Owen Meany - prophetic, small, squeaky voiced, and enthralling.
The narration is what makes this - just outstanding - the best I've heard in an audible book - his range of voices is consistently brilliant.
Yes - the ending was moving and the big story of the US' conscience and the Vietnam War is revealed superbly in the tale
Stick with it for the first few chapters until the characters grow on you. The humour is laugh out loud and irreverent and yet spiritual too without ever being pious. Irving says in the interview at the end that the challenge he set himself was to ask as an atheist, what it would take for him to come to believe in God.
"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.
"A fine book"
This is a fine book, and in Owen Meany, the author has created a truly memorable character. It is not a fast paced listen, but somehow manages to retain your interest throughout. John Irving's prose can plod at times - I did muse what this story might have been like in the hands of, say, Vladimir Nabokov - and this plodding is not helped by what at times is a rather worthy narration, but to be fair to the narrator he does do Owen Meany himself brilliantly, and generally holds your interest.
All that said, I did enjoy the book a lot, and have downloaded another of John Irving's books as a result.
Absolutely amazing, have just finished it and want to start it all over again. , this is the first Irving novel that I have read and cannot wait to read another. He is a modern master story teller, a la Dickens. Intellegent and spell binding and beautifully narrated.
"Fellow atheists need not be put off by the start."
Author interview at the end is an inciteful addition to this beautifully told tale of an inspiring and superhuman friend who is also a great burden despite his light weight.
"Audiobook of the Year!"
One of the funniest, the most well crafted, and possibly the most well-narrated book I've ever listened to. And quite by accident - I happened to catch part of BBA Radio 4's "A Good Read" and thought I'd give this a go. With an incredibly moving ending I never saw coming, the story also contains some of the funniest scenes I've ever heard. Outstanding.
I put off listening to this as I literally judged the book by it"s cover. This is a magnificent listen and I'm pleased I listened rather than read,: The narrator told the story more beautifully than I could ever hear it in my head. This is a book that you don't want to finish - you already know how it's going to end but not how the story comes together .. a wonderful story of how strength of character and unwavering faith overcome physical attributes .
"A good book but overlong"
I suppose so. It tended to drag on a little, with some of the passages looking like padding out rather than having real relevance to the story. Half way through, you realise what is going to happen to Owen, so the other messages in the story are a bit lost because they are all a lead up to the inevitable ending.
Isn't this the same question as the one I've just answered?
A couple of the characters were silly....Hester the Molester for example...completely crazy and unnecessary that she became a rock star.
"Brilliant Irving stuff"
Couldn't recommend this audible book more. Took me quite a few months to finish but such an enjoyable listen. The narrator is amazing, I couldn't imagine Owen Meaney's voice being anything other than this.
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