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In One Personby John Irving
Synopses & Reviews
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."
"Prep school. Wrestling. Unconventional sexual practices. Viennese interlude. This bill of particulars could only fit one American author: John Irving. His 13th novel (after Last Night in Twisted River) tells the oftentimes outrageous story of bisexual novelist Billy Abbott, who comes of age in the uptight 1950s and explores his sexuality through two decadent decades into the plague-ridden 1980s and finally to a more positive present day. Sexual confusion sets in early for Billy, simultaneously attracted to both the local female librarian and golden boy wrestler Jacques Kittredge, who treats Billy with the same disdain he shows Billy's best friend (and occasional lover) Elaine. Faced with an unsympathetic mother and an absent father who might have been gay, Billy travels to Europe, where he has affairs with a transgendered female and an older male poet, an early AIDS activist. Irving's take on the AIDS epidemic in New York is not totally persuasive (not enough confusion, terror, or anger), and his fractured time and place doesn't allow him to generate the melodramatic string of incidents that his novels are famous for. In the end, sexual secrets abound in this novel, which intermittently touches the heart as it fitfully illuminates the mutability of human desire. Agent: Dean Cooke, the Cooke Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"His most daringly political, sexually transgressive, and moving novel in well over a decade." Vanity Fair
"A brave and affecting depiction of how in one life (sexual and otherwise) we contain multitudes." Elle
"In One Person is a rich and absorbing book, even beautiful." Esquire
"[In One Person] is a staggeringly ambitious work, and its success reaffirms Irving's place among our greatest working novelists." BookPage (Fiction Top Pick, May 2012)
"Cause for excitement: John Irving's In One Person, his most daringly political, sexually transgressive, and moving novel in well over a decade, follows the life of charming Billy, an ambitious, bisexual writer as he pursues his desires....Theatrical, generous, sad." Vanity Fair
"Few writers can craft misfits with the tenderness of Irving, and this tragicomic portrait of a bisexual man is a masterpiece of sympathy and imagination." Departures
"Gorgeous...Irving remains a master builder when it comes to constructing an epic plot filled with satisfying twists." Entertainment Weekly
"It is impossible to imagine the American — or international — literary landscape without John Irving....He has sold tens of millions of copies of his books, books that have earned descriptions like epic and extraordinary and controversial and sexually brave. And yet, unlike so many writers in the contemporary canon, he manages to write books that are both critically acclaimed and beloved for their sheer readability. He is as close as one gets to a contemporary Dickens in the scope of his celebrity and the level of his achievement." Time
"This tender exploration of nascent desire, of love and loss, manages to be sweeping, brilliant, political, provocative, tragic, and funny — it is precisely the kind of astonishing alchemy we associate with a John Irving novel. The unfolding of the AIDS epidemic in the United States in the '80s was the defining moment for me as a physician. With my patients' deaths, almost always occurring in the prime of life, I would find myself cataloging the other losses — namely, what these people might have offered society had they lived the full measure of their days: their art, their literature, the children they might have raised. In One Person is the novel that for me will define that era. 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, author of Cutting for Stone and My Own Country
"In One Person is a novel that makes you proud to be human. It is a book that not only accepts but also loves our differences. From the beginning of his career, Irving has always cherished our peculiarities — in a fierce, not a saccharine, way. Now he has extended his sympathies — and ours — still further into areas that even the misfits eschew. Anthropologists say that the interstitial — whatever lies between two familiar opposites — is usually declared either taboo or sacred. John Irving in this magnificent novel — his best and most passionate since The World According to Garp — has sacralized what lies between polarizing genders and orientations. And have I mentioned it is also a gripping page-turner and a beautifully constructed work of art?" Edmund White, author of City Boy and Genet: A Biography
"Thus play I in one person many people,
And none contented."
— William Shakespeare, Richard II
His most political novel since The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving's In One Person is an intimate and unforgettable portrait of the solitariness of a bisexual man who is dedicated to making himself "worthwhile."
About the Author
The World According to Garp, which won the National Book Award in 1980, was John Irving's fourth novel and his first international bestseller. Irving's novels are now translated into thirty-five languages, and he has had nine international bestsellers. In One Person is John Irving's thirteenth novel.
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