In One Person

In One Person

A Novel

Book - 2012
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"My dear boy, please don't put a label on me - don't make me a category before you get to know me!"
 
John Irving's new novel is a glorious ode to sexual difference, a poignant story of a life that no reader will be able to forget, a book that no one else could have written.
 
Told with the panache and assurance of a master storyteller, In One Person takes the reader along a dizzying path: from a private school in Vermont in the 1950s to the gay bars of Madrid's Chueca district, from the Vienna State Opera to the wrestling mat at the New York Athletic Club. It takes in the ways that cross-dressing passes from one generation to the next in a family, the trouble with amateur performances of Ibsen, and what happens if you fall in love at first sight while reading Madame Bovary on a troop transport ship, in the middle of an Atlantic storm. For the sheer pleasure of the tale, there is no writer alive as entertaining and enthralling as John Irving at his best.
 
But this is also a heartfelt, intimate book about one person, a novelist named William Francis Dean. By his side as he tells his own story, we follow Billy on a fifty-year journey toward himself, meeting some uniquely unconventional characters along the way. For all his long and short relationships with both men and women, Billy remains somehow alone, never quite able to fit into society's neat categories. And as Billy searches for the truth about himself, In One Person grows into an unforgettable call for compassion in a world marked by failures of love and failures of understanding.
 
Utterly contemporary and topical in its themes, In One Person is one of John Irving's most political novels. It is a book that grapples with the mysteries of identity and the multiple tragedies of the AIDS epidemic, a book about everything that has changed in our sexual life over the last fifty years and everything that still needs to. It's also one of Irving's most sincere and human novels, a book imbued on every page with a spirit of openness that expands and challenges the reader's world.
 
A brand new story in a grand old tradition, In One Person stands out as one of John Irving's finest works - and as such, one of the best and most important American books of the last four decades.

Publisher: Toronto : Knopf Canada, c2012.
ISBN: 9780307361783
Characteristics: 425 p. ;,24 cm.

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g
geffenmyers
Nov 13, 2019

Very good listen!

s
Suelogeman
Aug 17, 2019

This book was not for me. I could't get interested in it. It was just too Shakespearean for me. I was so bored with it after 50 pages I returned it.

k
KellyLatimer
Jul 16, 2019

Not Irving's greatest story, but a moving account of the coming of age for queer men during a less accepting time as well as the horror of the 80's AIDS crisis.

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lukasevansherman
Aug 16, 2016

I can't decide whether Irving is the most popular of literary writers or the most literary of popular novels. I've been working my way through his considerable body of work and have yet to find a book of his that isn't worthwhile. Yet for all his success (He's also won an Oscar.), I feel he's not taken as seriously as some more "literary" authors. Maybe he encourages this, as he cites the unfashionable Dickens as one of his favorite writers and has never been associated with any trendy movement. His 13th novel may be his most ambitious and impressive yet. It takes as its theme sexuality, in particular the blurring of gender lines and sexuality fluidity. In a less skillful, less nuanced author's hands, this could be heavy-handed or overly political. It is political, but Irving has never been a message writer and so the issues he's dealing with are rooted in his characters. It has some similarities with "Middlesex," but I think Irving's book is more successful. It is impressive that an elderly New Englander can write so empathetically about characters of different sexual stripes. A great novel for our time and far better and more daring than any of his much younger competitors (All the New York Jonathans).

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Merryfeather
Nov 11, 2014

This might be the best Irving I have read yet. He takes on transsexuality and does a wonderful job of it. As with all of his novels that I have read, his regard for sexuality of all kinds is frank and honest.

m
mymaewest
Sep 15, 2013

Fabulous book!

a
archiedog1
Sep 09, 2013

An interesting read to say the least. I found myself drawn into the story the more I read. Your attachment to the main character evolves as the story does. Definitely the kind of book that you either love or hate.

rooneylcb May 15, 2013

I read this as a book club choice. If I hadn't had to read it I would have given up after the first few chapters. Very hard to follow as his stories switch from one era to another within the same paragraphs. Also found the ending very dissapointing. If I was asked what the plot of the story was, I would have to say, not sure. If this had been an autobiography I wouldn't have expected a plot but it wasn't. By the way, this was the general opinion of the 8 other members of our book club.

e
esk1033
Apr 13, 2013

I just finished reading IN ONE PERSON.
I find Irving`s characters quirky and interesting. His characters intertwine with great detail and colour. I loved Billy`s relationship with Elaine. They were on a plain most people can`t or refuse to achieve. I just wanted Kitteridge in their relationship shown more. Loved this book!!

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Lauren31
Mar 12, 2013

What can you say about any of John Irving's books? A master story-teller, and In One Person is no exception. It reads like a memoir, even though you know it's not. The storylines had me in tears more than once, for the complex relationships and the what-ifs. My one (small) disappointment is that I found the storylines wrapped up a little to easily at the end - everything works out and you're not left wondering.

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