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, he 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. His most recent novel is Last Night in Twisted River.
Diminutive Owen Meaney, the social outcast with the high, pinched voice, has an enormous influence on his friend Johnny Wheelwright--not least because the only baseball Owen ever hits causes the death of Johnny's mother. But as Johnny claims, ``Owen gave me more than he ever took from me. . . . What did he ever say that wasn't right?'' Spookily prescient, convinced that he is an instrument of God, Owen intimidates child and adult alike. Why Johnny ``is a Christian because of Owen Meaney'' is the novel's central mystery but not its only one: Who, for instance, was Johnny's father? Untangling these knots, the adult Johnny pauses to consider his religious convictions and distaste of American politics in passages that are neither especially persuasive nor effectively integrated into the book. And though Owen is a compelling presence, his power over others is not entirely convincing. Still, readers will be drawn in by the story of the boys' friendship and by the desire to see some resolution to Johnny's mysteries.-- Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal''
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 2009 Reed Business Information.