John Irving has written several fine books, but like most liberals has no solid ground under his self indulgence. I simply have no interest in reading long detailed passages about a man having sexual congress with another man's digestive system. The prose was excellent, the subject repulsive. Trashed it after he made a disturbing attempt to justify himself. This is truly a pathetic end to what was once a fairly good writing career.
Having read and enjoyed A Prayer for Owen Meany, I'm glad to say that John Ervin has done it again with this title.
The book describes the coming to terms of the main character with his bisexuality in the 1950s and 1960s and follows his life up to close to the present day.
The narrative is told with the character in old age, looking back on his life and the significant events in it.
While his struggle with his sexuality is an important element of the story, there is so much more colour added to the story by Ervin's portrayal of small town life. As in A Prayer for Owen Meany, the book is populated with larger than life characters who we come to know, and in some instances like, over the course of the book.
Ervin's description of the plight of those dying from aids in the 1980s is a particularly touching part of the novel.
It could be argued, that particularly in the first half of the book, the author lays on the introspection a bit too heavy, but this is more than justified by what follows.
It is true that there is a lot of talk of sex in the novel, but surprisingly enough very little actual descriptions of sex.
Even so, if you are put off by either the idea of bisexuality or homosexuality, then you might want to steer clear of this book.
In the end though, what we take from the book is that people are who they are, complete with their own attitudes, abilities, loves, hates and fears. We should never label or categorise people but accept people for who they are.
Interminable internal reflections about the character's conflicted feelings
I have loved everything I ever read/heard by Irving and gave this one a long run but this story just left me muttering "shut-up" and "get on with the story". I would read or listen to anything else that Irving did because of his long track record of good stories.
I was liking the girl at the beginning, but can't get through the rest of the story
not this one...interminable
The story is so well written--sensitive, authentic, real. I loved its subject matter. Thank goodness this is coming out. Top rate work. Thank you.
Narrator was great, book interesting but for me, not on the same level as his earlier works. Certainly won't stop me listening to his others. A slightly disappointing John Irving is still great compared to other writers.
John Irving is very ambitious in In One Person: A Novel taking on gender roles and taking them on mainly though not exclusively through his gender bending protagonist, BIlly. The story is LOL at times until AIDS appears later in the book when reality is considerable more somber than playful youth. Billy is in love with the town librarian who appears to be a woman but appearances in this book are often not what they seem. Cutting across the sixty something lifetime of the prep school narrator Irving provides a tour of 20th century gender identification morality and the multiplicity of changes it goes through courtesy of his characters. Cross dressing is a given in Billy’s family with his grandfather eager to take on female roles in the town’s theater group. His birth father’s whereabouts and his legendary and eventually questionable qualities as a lady’s man are part of the finale that wraps up multiple gender shifting roles played by many characters in the book. Dad emerges near the end with a link to a story Billy remembered from a feverish visit of his youth involving a shipmate reading a novel perched atop a storm tossed commode. There is a bit more coming-of-age antics than I would like but Irving’s ability to tie these youthful discoveries to the child being the father of the man give it depth. Altogether a good read and well written as are all of Irving’s books.
I'm writing this review mainly to praise the narrator. John B. Hickey's performance was nothing short of brilliant. His voices and characterizations brought each of the characters to life in a way that was incredibly compelling to listen to. I still can here him saying "aaaah well...." Mr. Hickey was able to channel a clear personality and sound to each character and brought each one to life that sounded absolutely genuine to the listener. This is a huge achievement and Mr. Hickey is obviously a tremendous voice talent. As for the material I'm a big fan of John Irving's works, and this story is good. I suppose one could say that he was courageous in a way to attempt to write this book, but his usual literary tools stood out as such and overall lacked something intangible that makes his writing attain the greatness he's had so many times.
John Irving is a master at creating characters who capture the imagination and stimulate utmost sympathy. This book is funny, touching and honest.
John Benjamin Hickey delivers the narration every bit as skillfully as his acting performances.