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In One Person: A Novel | [John Irving]

In One Person: A Novel

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.”

©2012 Garp Enterprises, Ltd. (P)2012 Simon & Schuster

What the Critics Say

"A profound truth is arrived at in these pages. It is Irving at his most daring, at his most ambitious. It is America and American writing, both at their very best.” (Abraham Verghese)

"His most daringly political, sexually transgressive, and moving novel in well over a decade." (Vanity Fair)

In One Person is a rich and absorbing book, even beautiful.” (Esquire)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (542 )
5 star
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4.1 (453 )
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Phil OKEMOS, MI, United States 06-14-12
    Phil OKEMOS, MI, United States 06-14-12 Member Since 2011

    Say something about yourself!

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    "Boring, lame, disappointing"

    I am a fan of John Irving. This book really let me down. The story is flat and unremarkable. Only the retelling of the AIDs crisis in the 80s had any emotion to it. It the story of closeted gay man who enjoys his men to have breasts and dress in women's clothing. I would really love money and hours of listening returned to me after this awful listening expereince.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Chicago, IL, United States 06-13-12
    Thomas Chicago, IL, United States 06-13-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Irving is a cliche of himself in thi s one"
    What would have made In One Person better?

    I'm writing this review having set this book down. I did not set it down due to the subject matter, which is heavey on homoeroticism and transgender or LGBT subjects. That wasnt' the problem. I've read many of John Irving's books and enjoyed them condsiderably. His "thing" of self-reference and repetition of characters, places, and themes works for a suite of novels, but here, it just seems tired. He revisits his self-stated practice as a "re-qriter" to a fault, and it just seems self-indulgent, tired, and to be quite frank, boring. Irving is an excellent writer, and his voice is quite clear here. To those who are fans of his turns of phrase, and character creations, they may enjoy this novel. Where this novel lacks is in a dynamic narrative. It is much more or a character study than his other novels, but it seems to ask of the reader to care in the same way about a number of characters across a great breadth of time. I don't care. He didn't make me care. I found his characters uninteresting and the narrative totally flat. booooooooooo.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from In One Person?

    Irving jumped too quickly into his sage places of both character and setting to deal with a difficult subject. I found his description of the bisexual experience and the description of the historical LGBT to be well researched, but totally disingenusous.


    Any additional comments?

    "Over-reach" is an easy descriptor for this and some of Irving's other books. He has some fantastic novels, but is not ifallible. This book is falling heavy upon the success of "The World According to Gap", and "Hotel New Hampshire", and has nothing on them. As an extension of that, while Irving has proven in his bnovels that rewriting and revisiting memesc can work, it just makes him semm lazy and self indulgent in this one.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn 05-18-12
    Carolyn 05-18-12 Member Since 2005

    Avid book listener. I love anything James Lee Burke,John Sandford and Nelson Demille. Stephen King has entertained me recently.

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    "Wonderful!!!! Another prayer or Owen Meany"

    Just finished listening and I loved In One Person. Irving has certainly produced a winner.It ranks with A Prayer For Owen Meany. As a 59 year old straight woman I loved all the characters with diverse sexual orientations. In one word great penithesis!! Hickey did a superb job with narration. I rarely listen to a book again but will come back to this one for sure. If you only read one novel this year let it be In One Person. Bravo John Irving!!!!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John S MA 06-08-12
    John S MA 06-08-12 Member Since 2005

    Avid audible listener for over 10 years.

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    "Deja vu"
    Would you try another book from John Irving and/or John Benjamin Hickey?

    Maybe not. I have read everyone of his books and he has been my favorite author.


    If you’ve listened to books by John Irving before, how does this one compare?

    This sounds so much like a prayer for Owen Meany. The whole setting is almost identical, a single mom, a private school in New England, the plays, etc. His Books are always similar, but this was way too close to what I consider his best, Owen Meany. Maybe he should cowrite a book within Steven King to spice things up. This could have been titled Owen Meany, the Sequel.


    What about John Benjamin Hickey’s performance did you like?

    Good reader, and liked his performance. The issue is the material.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn Pile 08-31-14 Member Since 2011

    pilegirl

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    "Listen in private. Not for homophobics."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Like most John Irving books I have read, the father of the main character is absent.


    Any additional comments?

    Every time my husband walked into the room while I was listening to this book, it was during an explicit homosexual scene. I endured a little bit of good-natured teasing. Maybe I should invest in earphones.

    This book is an in-depth story about the coming of age and life of a bisexual man. It's interesting to hear about the point of view of a person whose experiences and feelings are so different from my own humble life. And yet, as a human being, he is just like the rest of us.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jessica LYNCHBURG, VA, United States 03-18-14
    jessica LYNCHBURG, VA, United States 03-18-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Not his best"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Depends on the friend. The subject matter is not for everyone! :)


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    yes


    Do you think In One Person needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    perhaps a book on G


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Concerned Reader Stamford, CT, USA 10-02-13
    Concerned Reader Stamford, CT, USA 10-02-13 Member Since 2003

    Michael

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    "A tale of gender bending historical significance"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SCM Los Angeles, CA 06-02-13
    SCM Los Angeles, CA 06-02-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Fantastic Narration! Good but not great story.."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JS Tucson, AZ, United States 04-16-13
    JS Tucson, AZ, United States 04-16-13
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    "A story about memory and desire"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tammy 03-13-13
    Tammy 03-13-13
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    "An appreciation for humanity"
    Would you listen to In One Person again? Why?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Grandpa! If everyone had such open-minded family members, maybe our world would experience more peace and love!


    If you could rename In One Person, what would you call it?

    I think it is aptly titled, and I wouldn't change the name!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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