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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

4.4 (6654 )
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4.6 (5330 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Sandra Warren, AR, United States 06-01-11
    Sandra Warren, AR, United States 06-01-11
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    "A Prayer for Owen Meany"

    This is one of those books that has been on my list, and I never got around to reading it. Now I cannot wait to read other books by John Irving. This book captivated me on the first page and held my undivided interest until the very end. In fact, I found myself thinking about the book for days after I had completed it.John Irving develops the characters into people who are larger than life. I also really enjoyed this narrator. Seldom do I search by narrators, but now I look to find other readings by Joe Barrett.

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy Walkertown, NC, United States 04-05-11
    Timothy Walkertown, NC, United States 04-05-11 Member Since 2002

    54-year-old community college IT instructor. Over 500 titles in "My Library."

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    "Not My Type of Story"

    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.

    29 of 42 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emrys Alfred, NY, United States 05-01-17
    Emrys Alfred, NY, United States 05-01-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Wonderfully entertaining; superb narration"

    Irving's novels have somethings the form and style of the great 19th century novels by writers like Dickens and Hardy. Plot is central, which makes this a great listen. I loved the book and the reading. There are elements one can criticize–the plot is a bit of a stretch at times, just as it is in Dickens–but there is much to relish. I especially liked the humour. The scene where Owen argues his way into playing the part of Jesus in the pageant had my laughing out loud. And by the end you really love Owen Meany, and so you readily the love the other characters feel towards him. The reader does a fantastic job with Owen's voice, which is a key element in the story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 12-28-16

    Christine S,

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    "youthful memories of this book don't carry through"
    What disappointed you about A Prayer for Owen Meany?

    I could not abide the 'voice' that the narrator's given Owen. Which means he did a good job, I guess. But Owen's voice, along with the cruelty/bullying he endures by schoolmates just is not entertaining in these times.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Didn't finish. I hope it went positive.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Joe Barrett’s performances?

    yes.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert GOLDENS BRIDGE, NEW YORK, United States 11-28-16
    Robert GOLDENS BRIDGE, NEW YORK, United States 11-28-16 Member Since 2009
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    "You won't get this book out of your head"

    I listened to this book eight or nine months ago. Images from the story keep popping into my head. Haunting, and a riveting listen. I believe it's the best Vietnam-era book I've listened to (without being directly about the war). Unforgettable. And a fantastic narration.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John L Murphy Los Angeles 11-02-16
    John L Murphy Los Angeles 11-02-16 Member Since 2013

    Fionnchú

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    ""The crack of the bat""
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    As the novel is so long, I found it more background than foreground for much of the duration. John Irving likes spinning a yarn, yet this could have been edited and streamlined.


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

    Probably not. It's a considerable investment of time for a plot that while delving into character, does not keep a momentum that demands you stop listening. It does not bore, but it can drone. The lack of necessary action and much digression slows the pace down.


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

    I liked his folksy touch. Not only for the New England setting, but for the sky-pilot awkwardness of the Rev. Dudley Wiggin and the rapid-fire snark of Major Rowe. I wished the novel had given Joe Barrett more of a range to work with, as he shows talent in this genre.


    Did A Prayer for Owen Meany inspire you to do anything?

    Not really. Perhaps reflect again on the folly of Vietnam. It did not convince me of the central moral lesson about Owen's intervention and his calling. But Irving sure tried.


    Any additional comments?

    The "strangulated falsetto" of Owen is demanding for the speaker and the listener. I admired technically Barrett's ability to switch in and out of it so adroitly. And it will stick with you!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia 10-25-16
    Patricia 10-25-16
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    "Surprisingly boring"

    I bought this based on all the glowing reviews. It started out slow, and stayed that way until about hour from the end. I kept thinking that it had to get better, but no. Goes on and on about mundane and trivial things that don't add much to the story. Avoid

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gerald C Kane 10-03-16 Member Since 2006
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    "My fourth time through the book..."
    Would you listen to A Prayer for Owen Meany again? Why?

    Yes. I read the print version once, and the audio version 3 times.


    What about Joe Barrett’s performance did you like?

    His New Hampshire accent and his voicing of Owen Meany was spot on.


    If you could take any character from A Prayer for Owen Meany out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Owen, of course.


    Any additional comments?

    I was motivated to write this review becuase it seemed to me that a huge percentage of the negative reviews on Audible were from people who had not finished the book. I remember being slightly amused but mostly underwhelmed my first time through the book -- until I got to the end. At that point, my reaction was "My God, what did I just read!?!?" Its a book that seems to have a bunch of rambling plotlines and strange symbolism that are all tied together in the final scenes. Yes, it does have a strong emphasis on Christian theology (although gleefully irreverent at times), which I can see might not be appealing to those without that background. Nevertheless, its one of those books that I think really can't be appreciated fully until your second reading, certainly not at all before you've finished it at least once.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David in Sarasota Sarasota, FL, US 07-17-16
    David in Sarasota Sarasota, FL, US 07-17-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Magnificent!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of A Prayer for Owen Meany to be better than the print version?

    It has been years since I read this book. So many years it is hard to remember, except that it was a wonderful book. I had no idea when I downloaded the story, that the narrator would be so talented. The leading theme is Owen Meany's unusual appearance and his voice. This narrator's command of the many fascinating characters adds immensely to the story. In fact, I sent the book to my son but I want him to listen to the audio to get the dimension of Owen's personality as spoken through the narrator.


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

    I think it was the tender, yet selfish "capture" of the dress dummy for Owen's benefit and his rationalization to help John.


    Have you listened to any of Joe Barrett’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not but am going to search right away. He is terrific and I will be interested in finding out if he is an actor.


    Any additional comments?

    I am very glad to have an Audible membership and this book made it worthwhile.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. 06-30-16
    A. 06-30-16 Member Since 2016
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    "It came alive came alive"

    The narration brought my old friends to life in a way that I have never expected. I have read this book twice however this tops all. there was so much nuance that I had missed. I LOVED IT!!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • jill
    6/16/17
    Overall
    "A prayer for Owen Meany"

    I found this book enthralling . John Irvine's narration brings the characters to life especially Owen Meany. The opening sentence captures you and leads you right to the last chapter. The subtlety of Johnny's love for Owen is touching. Many aspects are included in this story,Vietnam war, public school life, class difference, dyslexsia, religion, love and prejudice all handled expertly and thought provoking. Will listen to this author again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Karen Godsman
    6/15/17
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    "Wonderful"

    Read this book years ago and loved it. The Narrator is absolutely fantastic. Incredible writing and great story which made me laugh out loud at times and moved me to tears at the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mono
    6/15/17
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    "Truly brilliant!"

    Truly brilliant. I have to put it in my top ten with A Picture of Dorian Gray and Sweet Thursday. It has a beautiful fluid style which hits a very special nerve that's so memorable. Amazing as an audio version as 'The Voice' is so crucial.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • J
    6/11/17
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    "Not my cup of tea but I probably missed the point"

    I can appreciate its well written and professionally narrated but it's not my kind of story and so I gave up before the end

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs
    6/8/17
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    "Great Book"

    I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book. It is a great story and it was a joy to listen to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lynn T.
    6/8/17
    Overall
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    "Only got halfway"

    Life is too short to have continued any further.
    Goes on and on and on

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ruben
    6/3/17
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    "exceptional book, very well narrated"

    this is a beautiful story that is very well told. I also enjoyed the half an hour or so interview with John Irving at the end. more audiobooks should have such extras!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Simon Evers
    UK
    6/3/17
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Lovely story; superb naration"

    I thorouglhy enjoyed this book - and I really only wanted to say that the superb narration (not least Owen's voice!) made it so.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Janet Matthews
    6/2/17
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    "Weird and wonderful "

    I've never read a book like this which gave me 'the shivers', made me cringe, made me laugh, made me cry, challenged my thinking, made me love that strange little character Owen Meady and his strange voice like everyone else in the book. brilliant
    Thank you

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jill smith
    5/31/17
    Overall
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    "Stunning"

    This is a wonderful book brilliantly read by Joe Barrett. I kind of fell in love with the boy with the wrecked voice and his extraordinary personality. As a Christian I found it profound and inspiring but don't let that put non believers off this book it's far more spiritual than religious. It made me laugh out loud it totally captivated me and I wept with utter sadness at the end for the loss of Owen Meany.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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