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.
As a general rule, I do not listen to books more than once because there is so much amazing literature and so little time! However, this will be one that I repeat, and I think I will enjoy it even more the second time.
Grandpa! If everyone had such open-minded family members, maybe our world would experience more peace and love!
I think it is aptly titled, and I wouldn't change the name!
I would recommend this book to any Irving fan
Hotel New Hampshire and The world according to Garp - mainly because of the recurring themes and characters
he is pleasant
Very much so
I loved this book! I loved the multitude of colourful and slightly mad characters, the timespan of telling a story over half a century (including the presence of certain political events or outbreaks as well as cultural changes during that time), the fascinating coming of age of a young person very different to "the norm", and most of all the clever, humourous and incredibly sensitive yet raw and honest way in which Irving handles such a delicate, difficult and often made taboo subject.
Whilst I had to suspend my disbelief that there were so many gay, lesbian, bisexual, cross-dressing and transgender individuals in a small town like "First Sister, Vermont", let alone as part of one family, I was actually happy to do that to go along with the flow of a most wonderful, mind-boggling and even educational (though sometimes, frankly, I learnt more than I'd ever have wanted to know....some of the descriptions of gay sexual practices are not to be read by the faint-hearted, I suspect. :-) story told by the very likeable and self-aware William Abbott.
During the last third of the book I felt that Irving repeated a lot of events and encounters between people to the extent that I was wondering whether either Bill Abbott, the narrator, or myself the reader was supposed to be a bit demented. Perhaps it was supposed to be part of Billy's growing old and reminding himself of certain events in his life but it was a bit too repetitive for me. It's possible, too, that the repetitions were supposed to serve the reader's memory because there were so many different characters central to various parts of Billy's life.
In fact, I already mourn not only the fictional deaths of many of the book's weird and wonderful characters, but also the loss of the company that Billy Abbott provided me with over the last ten days, in the form of the outstanding audio narration by John Benjamin Hickey.
When I first began the book I thought oh this is just like so many other Irving novels but then the plot really developed and took an interesting and very political turn. The characters were wonderful and it was very engaging. I really enjoyed the historical nature of the stroy especially the overview of the AIDs epidemic in the 1980s.
No. I was not a fan of the reader.
I AM a huge Irving fan, but not this book. I just finished reading Son of the Circus and Twisted River, I didn't now there was a new Irving out. I was so excited, and now disappointed.
I also decided I do not like audio books, I just fall asleep.
Liked the reader very much. The story was engaging especially the wrestling .
Warmth and Comfort seeker
7 out of 10 ranking; important topic for transitioning individuals
Discovering the true nature of Kitridge
The narrator - William Abbott
Ms. Frost - very interesting history; most honest about who she is and standing for what she believes; especially coming from a small conservative town.
Riveting story - highly recommended