Judith's Reviews > In One Person

In One Person by John Irving
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Aug 16, 12

Read in July, 2012

In One Person: A Novel by John Irving begins in a small town Vermont library, ends in a nearby prep school theater, and wanders off to Vienna, New York, and San Francisco along the way. Narrator Bill Abbott recalls his life as a reader, a student, and a writer. This is a novel about memory, but Bill’s issues are desire and honesty. As a bi-sexual man born in the 1940s, Billy’s school days included more than the usual secrets and rejections; in his prime, AIDS destroyed trust, striking down friends and lovers. Having always avoided the very idea of monogamy, not to mention marriage, he is swept away by the courageous young LGBTQ community and their quest for marriage rights. As a best-selling bi-sexual novelist, he had been ‘out’ for decades, living with the acclaim and disdain of the reading public. Like Irving, Abbott had “create[d] these characters who are so sexually ‘different,’ as you might call them--or ‘fucked up,’ which is what I would call them--and then you expect us to sympathize with them, or feel sorry for them, or something.” (p.424) Not Irving’s first sympathetic study of sexually different characters, but this novel asserts a personal and political message he has not conveyed in the past.

"You have to live your life at the time you live it."
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