Tragicomedy Tuesday: In One Person

Posted 22 October, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Tragicomedy Tuesday: In One PersonIn One Person by John Irving
Published by Simon and Schuster on May 8th 2012
Genres: Fiction, Gay, Literary, Political, Psychological
Pages: 425

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. 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."

I read somewhere that this was Irving’s most political book since Cider House Rules. It probably is. 

A few things though, there seems to be an inordinately large LGBT(Q) population in the tiny town of Favorite River… not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it felt a bit contrived. 

Second. I feel like both of these themes have been better executed in A Prayer for Owen Meany (friendship, the idea of being a ‘Joseph’ [in this case bi-], even the family shares similar characteristics is, but with less love) and A Widow for One Year, which tackles a man’s lifelong obsession and longing for an older woman that in turn shapes his life.

That being said I think that this is a fabulous novel for the subject matter that it tackles. It’s warm and funny, the characters are largely likable. The best part of this novel is the way that it takes on the 1980’s AIDS epidemic and completely humanizes it. Like the AIDS Quilt in DC, it’s a great reminder that those who suffered (and are suffering) are NOT just statistics. 

Definitely worth the read, even if it’s not his best. 


April @ The Steadfast Reader


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