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A Prayer for Owen Meany: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

John Irving
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,854 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.99
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Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

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Book Description

I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.

In the summer of 1953, two eleven-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.



Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Owen Meany is a dwarfish boy with a strange voice who accidentally kills his best friend's mom with a baseball and believes--accurately--that he is an instrument of God, to be redeemed by martyrdom. John Irving's novel, which inspired the 1998 Jim Carrey movie Simon Birch, is his most popular book in Britain, and perhaps the oddest Christian mystic novel since Flannery O'Connor's work. Irving fans will find much that is familiar: the New England prep-school-town setting, symbolic amputations of man and beast, the Garp-like unknown father of the narrator (Owen's orphaned best friend), the rough comedy. The scene of doltish the doltish headmaster driving a trashed VW down the school's marble staircase is a marvelous set piece. So are the Christmas pageants Owen stars in. But it's all, as Highlights magazine used to put it, "fun with a purpose." When Owen plays baby Jesus in the pageants, and glimpses a tombstone with his death date while enacting A Christmas Carol, the slapstick doesn't cancel the fact that he was born to be martyred. The book's countless subplots add up to a moral argument, specifically an indictment of American foreign policy--from Vietnam to the Contras.

The book's mystic religiosity is steeped in Robertson Davies's Deptford trilogy, and the fatal baseball relates to the fatefully misdirected snowball in the first Deptford novel, Fifth Business. Tiny, symbolic Owen echoes the hero of Irving's teacher Günter Grass's The Tin Drum--the two characters share the same initials. A rollicking entertainment, Owen Meany is also a meditation on literature, history, and God. --Tim Appelo

From Publishers Weekly

Joe Barrett captures the humor and sorrow of Irving's classic novel about faith, friendship and fate. We follow the adventures of diminutive Owen Meany and his best friend Johnny Wheelwright as they grapple with life, death and devotion and come of age in the small town of Gravesend, N.H. Barrett deftly portrays a host of strange and wonderful characters as Owen commandeers the local Christmas pageant, battles with an autocratic headmaster and fulfills what he believes to be his destiny. Faced with the unenviable task of capturing the singular voice of the titular character (in the novel, Owen's dialogue is capitalized to represent his strident, squeaking speech), Barrett produces a workmanlike rendition of Owen that, while not perfect, grows on listeners as the story unfolds. True to the spirit of the text, Barrett's masterful rendition is a delight. A Morrow hardcover. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1161 KB
  • Print Length: 658 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0676974031
  • Publisher: William Morrow; Reprint edition (March 13, 2012)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006VE6TCW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,152 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
269 of 288 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Irving August 15, 2000
By shel99
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"A Prayer for Owen Meany" is NOT your typical book. Of course, that could be said about any of John Irving's novels; his is one of the most unusual voices I've ever read. But this one is especially unique. Owen Meany is probably the most memorable character that I've ever come across in a book of any genre. A dwarf with a voice so striking and strange that his dialogue is WRITTEN IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, he also believes (rightly!) that he is an instrument of God. It is sometimes confusing to follow the jumps in time; the narrator, Owen's best friend Johnny Wheelwright, alternates the story of his growing up with Owen with anecdotes from his "present" life in the late 80's.
Predestination, faith, doubt, politics, love, hate, family, friendship...these are all themes that make appearances in this book. Furthermore, it is a page-turner that is impossible to put down, right from the start. I read the entire second half of the book in one marathon reading session, wasting an entire morning because I couldn't bear to stop, knowing that more revelations were in store. I've read some of Irving's other novels, and loved them all, but I think "A Prayer for Owen Meany" has been the best so far.
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109 of 116 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure genius January 23, 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is undoubtedly the best book I have ever read. The plot is so complicated and intriguing that when you reach the end, and you finally see how John Irving ties together all of the intricate details, you are left dumbstruck. Despite the many carefully crafted foreshadowing clues, it's impossible to figure this one out until the end. If you've loved other books by Irving, you'll find the same quirky characters, rich symbolism, and literary craft.
Un..forget..able!
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179 of 201 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book I've Read This Year May 20, 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I started reading A Prayer for Owen Meany at the urging of a friend, part of our on-going reading program. She had just started the novel, and said it was funny and I would enjoy it. I never expected that it would move me so. John Irving has written a profound novel of faith, friendship, and fate.
It took me one or two sections to understand Irving's style. He likes to jump around a lot, and as the story is written as a memoir, that is certainly understandable. But Johnny Wheelwright (the narrative voice of the story) wants to tell us too much, too fast, and it doesn't all make sense at first. Only one thing is clear from the beginning: Owen Meany is destined to change Johnny's life.
Owen and Johnny are friends in New Hampshire in the 1950s. They have a unique bond which due in part to Owen's extraordinary presence. The dwarfed child has a strange voice that chills most people (including Johnny's grandmother), but he also has an adult-like wisdom and understanding. The bond between Owen and Johnny is sealed by a freak accident when Owen hits a baseball, killing Johnny's mother.
As they grow up, it becomes clear to Johnny that Owen thinks he is guided by God. The accident with Johnny's mother is just one incident that ultimately will lead Johnny to find his own faith.
There are moments of biting humor in the novel as well as moments of sadness. Although the majority of the story centers on Johnny's childhood, it continues through his high school and college years. As expected for the setting, Kennedy and the Vietnam War become important themes throughout the story.
There are also moments when Johnny -- writing the novel in 1987 -- steps out of character to tell the reader in a diary-like fashion about his life in the present as a teacher.
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warning: This will become one of your favorite books ever September 7, 2000
Format:School & Library Binding
It is one thing to rediscover a classic, a novel that people have enjoyed for years and years. It is another thing to read a book that has just been published and come to the realization that you are holding a classic in your hand. I remember finishing "A Prayer for Owen Meany" for the first time and telling everybody I know, "YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK." John Irving is one of the few authors I buy hardback as soon as a new one comes out and I am truly glad I came to this particular book the way I did.
The book has what is probably my all time favorite opening line, but what struck me the most at the end was how everything came together. The recurring themes, images, events all blend together into a memorable climax. It also has several wickedly funny scenes which just reinforces my earlier conviction that Irving and I have the same sense of humor.
The story is about faith on a personal level, which is intriguing since religion in this country is usually presented on a social level. I think it is also a meditation on the nature of heroism, albeit in a most unusual context.
This book can not be made into a film, so it is not surprising that we ended up with "Simon Birch." Irving could not have solved the problems because they are impossible to solve. The voice of Owen Meany, always presented in the book as CAPITAL LETTERS could never survive the transition from novel to film. You can not capture something like that and you should not even try. The only sad thing is that children seemed to like "Simon Birch" a lot and we can only imagine their shock if they get around to reading the novel.
I think the best way to approach this book is through the earlier efforts of John Irving.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars I got bored with it.
I got bored..... Read about 30% of it. Plot wasn't going anywhere. Irving has a cute writing style. However I like a story that moves forward. This didn't seem to.
Published 2 days ago by J. Prelack
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
PUre genious in spots but you have to go in it with patience.
Published 3 days ago by phantom
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Came in good condition
Published 4 days ago by ramona tutone
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the time!
Long book but worth the time. I'm grateful the author does a lot of foreshadowing or I might have been wrecked at the end. There is a lot to talk about, so read this with a friend!
Published 5 days ago by Amy J. Elsbernd
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Overall story was good, book was very monotone. The book came in looking great though!
Published 5 days ago by Silvester Stanley
4.0 out of 5 stars Very challenging in following the story as it changed from ...
Very challenging in following the story as it changed from one time to another within a chapter. However, also fascinating at the same time.
Published 7 days ago by Marlis Meyer
4.0 out of 5 stars Perseverance Necessary
This was a tough book to read. It took me a year of putting it down and picking it back up. Some of the passages would be so descriptive it was difficult to get through. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Joseph Faraci
5.0 out of 5 stars give it a chance... it's amazing.
Started slow for me but I couldn't put it down after a while... This will stay with me for a long time.
Published 11 days ago by Susan Keel Anderson
4.0 out of 5 stars great story very sweet but it is a journey
This is very good story telling. You live with the characters for over 600 pages. At times I started to get annoyed about the amount of the details and tangents but it was all tied... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Michele_F
3.0 out of 5 stars I did enjoy the
too long for the story. I did enjoy the characters
Published 13 days ago by MARY
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More About the Author

John Irving published his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, in 1968. He has been nominated for a National Book Award three times-winning once, in 1980, for the novel The World According to Garp. He also received an O. Henry Award, in 1981, for the short story "Interior Space." In 1992, Mr. Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 2000, he won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules-a film with seven Academy Award nominations. In 2001, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Last Night in Twisted River is John Irving's twelfth novel.

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