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.
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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)
You'll never read another novel like this one. The characters are well-developed, easy to relate to,, interesting, and captivating. One absorbs wisdom from reading the book almost inadvertently. Don't think, from the hints in the middle of the book, you'll guess the ending - you almost certainly won't! VERY highly recommended.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this tale of childhood friends who became even more involved by one killing the other's mother.
Almost from the beginning, I related their relationship as children and then, as adults, to events in my own life in the same time line. It may be hard to get over some of the references to Catholics if you are ardent but, if you believe in no accidents and do question religion, you may enjoy the self study (and indulgence) of the story teller.
It isn't a literary classic but, despite what most of the 'known' critics recorded in their reviews of this book, I would invite anyone who has lived through the draft, still has a friend from childhood, grew up with a step dad or has crazy cousins and an aging Grandmother involved in your life, to enjoy this book.
Joe Barrett's dramatic oration is a little hard to get used to in reference to Owen Meany but, as it plays a major part in the telling of the story, I rather enjoyed it by the end.
It can be predictable at times and it does take awhile to get going but, I listen to books while driving and if I am looking forward to getting back into the car to hear more, it generally means that it was entertaining.
I enjoyed my time with this story and was still thinking of the characters days after the listen was over.
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