Suzanne's Reviews > In One Person

In One Person by John Irving
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May 30, 2012

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Read from May 15 to 26, 2012

John Irving's newest novel has a strong voice. It reads like a memoir. I'm having a difficult time reviewing this book, though I've been reading it for almost two weeks. It feels like four. This is not a good sign.
There were several characters who shape Bill Abbot, the protagonist, but not the hero. This epic begins when Bill is a child and follows him until he is almost seventy, but not in a linear fashion. Bill's lfe journey takes him from Vermont to N. Y. to San Francisco to Europe and finally back to Vermont.
Bill's family, like most families, is complex, quirky, but in the end accepting and loving. I guess Bill is trying to find himself. This is difficult for heterosexuals. I imagine homosexuals, bi sexuals and transexuals have more issues.
I think that my problem with In One Person is that most of Bill's friends and family members also have many difficulties establishing who they are. Many of them struggle with their dishonest choices and AIDs. Bill decides who he is and lives as a bi sexual openly in early adolesence. He has many partners and several lovers. He becomes a successful writer. He looses many of frinds and lovers to AIDs. In fact, as he and Elaine (friend/lover) tend their dying friends, I was very affected. Yet the wrestling coach has taught Bill one good move, the "duck under." Bill buries at least five friends, but he is able to duck under the disease.
Finally Bill returns to "change" life at Famous River and Gee and her classmates. This part reminded me of Mr. Holland's Opus. I thought the ending was sacharrine. Thinking about the whole book, the word false comes to mind. I think Irving wrestled with this book more than Bill struggled with his life. Irving, because of his past successes was able to publish and sell In One Person. I think his one good move, the "duck under" will not be able to save this book.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Suzanne It's like going home (your parent's home) during a vacation. I feel very comfortable in the small Vermont town. Though I've just met Bill, Miss Frost, Muriel, Mother and Grandpa, they're all familiarly quirky and very accessible. Bill's introduction to literature at 13 is so Irving... Tom Jones, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights with some Hedda Gabler sprinkled in. Who care if this rambles?

Gary  the Bookworm It seemed to have such promise in the beginning. Such a shame...

message 3: by Betsy (new)

Betsy McTiernan And I think I'll skip this Irving. Great last sentence, Suzanne.

Jenny You pegged it Suzanne - been reading it for 2 weeks but it feels like 4. I'm not even half way through it I always try to find something else to read on the porch - not a good sign.

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