‘In One Person’ by John Irving

“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 is a big name in literature, and his latest novel ‘In One Person’ is a testament to his skill as an author. The main character in this story is bisexual and the book is a fictional account of his coming of age and an exploration into the fragility of his self-discovery journey and the mysteries of identity. Irving has always been considered a provocative writer and this book is no exception. The book is very sexually explicit and frank, so if you are uncomfortable with that you might want to take a pass on this one. It is not a book for everyone. However, the book is an amazing literary achievement and not to be missed by Irving fans or anyone open to a compassionate exploration of a subject many people shy away from. Irving’s intent is not to disturb or unsettle, but to provide a window into a part of human experience and as usual, for this author, to produce a beautifully well written work of art.

Though the book is fiction, it reads like a memoir so it makes sense that it would be candid. As a fictional memoir it has the power of a personal story free from  judgement and politics. The latter part of the book is an empathic account of the unfolding of the AIDS epidemic in North America during the 80’s. All of the characters, the tragedy, the humour, and the insights in this book will stay with me for a very long time.

2 responses to “‘In One Person’ by John Irving

  1. John Irving used to be one of my favourite writers and two of his books still rank as my top twenty but I have fallen out of love with his works. I just got sick of New England, bears and I began to wonder if he really has a handle on what women are like. So many of his female characters seem unidimensional. Is this book different from his last three and really worth the read? I did not like his last three and could not even get through his last one.

    • Hello Victoria, Interesting comment about Irving’s female characters. Since the main character in this novel is bisexual, he covers a wide range of gender issues and his characters do have depth. I have not read all of Irving’s books, but this one struck a chord and I would rank it highly.

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