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A Prayer for Owen Meany Audiobook

A Prayer for Owen Meany

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Publisher's Summary

Earphones Award Winner (AudioFile Magazine)

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.


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.

What the Critics Say

"This moving book comes across like a concerto in this audio version, with a soloist—Owen's voice—rising from the background of an orchestral narration. This book, one of the finest of its time, gets the narration that it deserves." (AudioFile)

“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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    lisa San Francisco, CA, United States 08-28-11
    lisa San Francisco, CA, United States 08-28-11 Member Since 2015
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    "Long But Good"

    I do not at all agree w/ the reviewers that claim this is a "must listen!" This is a very particular type of story and certainly not for everyone. That being said, it was a very entertaining story and I did find myself drawn in by the story and many of the characters; I grew up in New England not long after this story though, and partially I think that accounts for much of my interest. I would say that the major draw-back is John Irving's overly, overly long digressions abut political info. or books the characters are reading that have no bearing on the main story whatsoever. several hours of this boring stuff could have been lopped off and the story wouldn't have changed one bit. otherwise, a totally original and very interesting read.

    37 of 46 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cherry North Bay, ON, Canada 06-11-11
    Cherry North Bay, ON, Canada 06-11-11
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    "formidable reading of a memorable book"

    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.

    14 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rick Urcuquí, Ecuador 02-22-15
    Rick Urcuquí, Ecuador 02-22-15 Member Since 2013

    In a peaceful, verdant valley on the Equator, the sun always sets at 6, and a good audiobook is always the perfect evening companion

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    "Unforgettable"

    From its iconic, elegiac opening paragraph to its extraordinary finale, when disparate elements accelerate and converge like a meteor swarm, “A Prayer for Owen Meany” is an awe-inspiring John Irving masterpiece. He always begins writing a book from the end, he says in an appended interview, taking as much as 18 months to devise a “roadmap” of the story. It’s the only way to imagine the creation of such a complex, multilayered opus—long but never tedious, laced with chilling portent, and all at once engaging, funny, moving and tragic.

    It begins with a fateful Little League game in 1953, and goes to times and places where only John Irving could take it.

    There is a concept in journalism called “advancing the story,” where a writer continually reveals new developments, rather than heaping on details that simply make the story longer. Irving is a virtuoso at its fictional counterpart. Just a couple of hours into “Owen Meany,” you’ve heard so much, in such gripping and intimate detail, that you begin to wonder what could possibly fill the remaining 25 hours or so. You wonder how it could ever end, and then, later, you fear that it will.

    I am not a religious person—neither, he says, is the author—but its religiosity is what gives the book such strength of character. My life has been enriched by listening to Joe Barrett’s masterful reading of “A Prayer for Owen Meany.” It’s that good.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sherri Guildford, Australia 12-05-14
    Sherri Guildford, Australia 12-05-14 Member Since 2009

    Australian, living in beautiful central Victoria. Audio book addict otherwise fairly well balanced.

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    "Gave me the SHIVERS - in good way."

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Delray Beach, FL, United States 08-11-13
    Steve Delray Beach, FL, United States 08-11-13 Member Since 2016

    I'm always looking for that well written gem.

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    "A Perfect Confluence of Narration and Writing."

    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.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sue Williamsburg, VA, United States 04-29-13
    Sue Williamsburg, VA, United States 04-29-13
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    "A well written book"

    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.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan 07-25-12
    Dan 07-25-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Glad I listened- now I know"

    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.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    danni Sointula, BC, Canada 03-23-12
    danni Sointula, BC, Canada 03-23-12 Member Since 2017
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    "This is a beautiful book"

    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!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greg Wilson 03-13-12
    Greg Wilson 03-13-12 Member Since 2017

    Architectural Photographer based in Florida

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    "Brilliant Characters, Story and Narration"

    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.

    Highly Recommended!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 04-23-11
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 04-23-11 Member Since 2015

    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.

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    "FAITH"

    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.

    29 of 38 people found this review helpful
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  • James
    winchester, Hampshire, United Kingdom
    9/12/09
    Overall
    "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.

    15 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • Nedreve
    1/10/17
    Overall
    Performance
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    "A good book but overlong"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    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.


    Would you recommend A Prayer for Owen Meany to your friends? Why or why not?

    Isn't this the same question as the one I've just answered?


    Which character – as performed by Joe Barrett – was your favourite?

    Owen


    If this book were a film would you go see it?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    A couple of the characters were silly....Hester the Molester for example...completely crazy and unnecessary that she became a rock star.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Catherine
    Cambridge, United Kingdom
    4/9/13
    Overall
    "This is what audiobooks are for!"

    What a treat. It's long but I would have rather it hadn't ended... An immersive experience

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Sioux
    9/23/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Will stay with me forever"
    Would you consider the audio edition of A Prayer for Owen Meany to be better than the print version?

    I have not read the print version


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Prayer for Owen Meany?

    The nativity play and the car in the school made me laugh out loud.<br/>The pathos throughout<br/>I was desperately ill in hospital for about 3 months. Every evening I was able to listen to this book and shut out what was going on around me. It kept me sane.


    Which character – as performed by Joe Barrett – was your favourite?

    They were all equally brilliant


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Both


    Any additional comments?

    Read it certainly but Joe Barratt's voice lulled me and enticed me like I was listening to an old friend. A very moving book.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Loraine P
    7/21/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not long enough!"
    If you could sum up A Prayer for Owen Meany in three words, what would they be?

    Memorable, moving and entertaining


    What other book might you compare A Prayer for Owen Meany to, and why?

    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


    What does Joe Barrett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    The Voice! It perfectly evokes the image of a tiny man with a huge effect on all around him


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This book took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions, from sadness and outrage to laugh out loud joy


    Any additional comments?

    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

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Norah
    Herefordshire, England
    5/18/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    ""Don't be afraid""

    I can only bless the previous commentators........without their reviews I would never have chosen this book.
    The narration is awesome.

    If you are having trouble choosing a book, look no further.......it may possibly change the way you approach both life and death.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Victoria
    Witney, United Kingdom
    3/9/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An outstanding Book, don't give up on it!"
    What did you like most about A Prayer for Owen Meany?

    I loved every twist and turn. I can't rate this book high enough.<br/>Just keep on with it as it just gets better.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Prayer for Owen Meany?

    The final tragic scene.......


    Which character – as performed by Joe Barrett – was your favourite?

    My favourite character was Owen, such a powerful figure in the book, not to be underestimated.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    This book is a compelling. Just too long for a one hit listen.


    Any additional comments?

    This book was chosen for my book group. I will score it 10 out of 10. <br/> It made me cry!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Tony
    LETCHWORTH GARDEN CITY, United Kingdom
    1/21/12
    Overall
    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jobo
    spalding, uk
    8/21/10
    Overall
    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Elinor
    Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom
    7/30/10
    Overall
    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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