Tuesday, July 17, 2012

In One Person


This was a new acquisition at my library so I picked it up even though I thought it was by John Updike and not John Irving. I am not an Updike fan and am forever mistaking these two authors for each other. Anybody else do that? Just me? OK, then. For the record, Irving = Cider House Rules, A Prayer for Owen Meany and Updike = Rabbit series. To be fair, I've never read Updike's most famous works. To revisit at a later date.....

Good Reads' Synopsis: A compelling novel of desire, secrecy, and sexual identity, In One Person is a story of unfulfilled love—tormented, funny, and affecting—and an impassioned embrace of our sexual differences. Billy, the bisexual narrator and main character of In One Person, tells the tragicomic story (lasting more than half a century) of his life as a “sexual suspect,” a phrase first used by John Irving in 1978 in his landmark novel of “terminal cases,” The World According to Garp. His most political novel since The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving’s In One Person is a poignant tribute to Billy’s friends and lovers—a theatrical cast of characters who defy category and convention. Not least, In One Person is an intimate and unforgettable portrait of the solitariness of a bisexual man who is dedicated to making himself “worthwhile.”(

What I Thought: That is not a very good synopsis so I'll offer a brief one of my own. In One Person begins in 1960's Vermont at a boys' boarding school where Billy lives (as a teen) with his family. He befriends the local librarian that everyone seems to warn him to stay away from and develops a love of reading and writing. What unfolds is a 50 year coming of age story filled with angst and love and everything in between.

I really, really enjoyed this one and was sad when it was over. That's how I know a book speaks to me, when I mourn the ending. I thought it was an interesting twist on your typical love story, which is to say this wasn't really a love story at all but it definitely played a role here. The character development was outstanding but since it's Irving, no surprise there. If you are easily offended by homosexual/bisexual/transsexual themes, this is probably not the book for you as it's central to the plot. But, if you are looking to learn a little more about that lifestyle through some good writing, then give this one a try!
Rating: * * * *

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