Customer Reviews for

In One Person

Average Rating 3.5
( 103 )
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(38)

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(29)

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(16)

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(7)

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(13)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

28 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

Beautifully written!

I have only started this but already, I am having a hard time putting it down (for work, to eat!). It is beautifully written....the prose is descriptive & captivating, the story is excellent, and the characters are quirky & lovable.

posted by Steve2 on May 8, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

7 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

I usually love his books but I am about half way through and bec

I usually love his books but I am about half way through and becoming bored and will probably pick up another book to read and come back to this one (someday). As usual, the writing is great but the story is interesting for a while and then drags on for too many pages ...
I usually love his books but I am about half way through and becoming bored and will probably pick up another book to read and come back to this one (someday). As usual, the writing is great but the story is interesting for a while and then drags on for too many pages before it becomes interesting again. Instead of 400+ pages this could have been written in much less. This is a disappointment as in the past I could never put one of his books down.

posted by 3097160 on May 22, 2012

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  • Posted June 8, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A couple of decades ago, a group of Biblical scholars (I believe

    A couple of decades ago, a group of Biblical scholars (I believe they were called The Jesus Council) got together to discuss the four books of the gospel in the New Testament. They concluded that each of the books had elements in common but that they weren’t necessarily derivative of each other, but rather from another, older text, one that had presumably been lost. They called the missing text “Q”. It represented the set of facts and stories that each of the gospel writers would have been familiar with and would have used as the basis for their own accounts (if I remember correctly, only three of the gospels relied heavily on Q while the gospel of John—or was it Luke?—varied a great deal). Anyway, I bring this up because if you were to create the “John Irving Council” (Garp Council, perhaps?) you could draw the same conclusion. The majority of John Irving’s novels have so many elements in common that it seems like a dozen retellings of the same person’s life, the life of Q.

    Who is John Irving’s Q? Well, he’s likely the son of a single mother who has both mommy issues and daddy issues. His father may have been a war hero, but he’s not really sure and spends a fair bit of time wondering about it. He lives with his mother somewhere in New England. He probably is interested in wrestling as a teenager and aspires to be a writer. His first sexual experience is almost certainly with a somewhat masculine girl to whom he is not necessarily attracted but to whom he submits out of curiosity and fear. She will continue to influence his sexual development but will never be his idea of “girlfriend material.” She may be an inappropriate choice, perhaps because he sees her as a friend, or perhaps because she is related to him. Either way, he finds her sexually aggressive. There will be another woman whom he idealizes, even though things will probably not work out with her either. He will probably travel to Germany or Eastern Europe at some point. He may or may not encounter a bear.

    Who is this person? Is it just a constant recreation of Garp, the character who shot John Irving to literary stardom? Or is it a version of Irving’s own life? I’ve always wondered. Sadly, whenever Mr. Irving talks about himself in interviews or memoirs, it’s mostly about his success in the movie business, which I find less interesting than finding out the identity of the hairy girl who saw him through puberty.

    In some ways, In One Person is John Irving’s most revealing novel yet. Or at least it would be if the character of William Abbott, an aging novelist looking back on his life as a bisexual boy at a New England boarding school, were, in fact, John Irving. But he’s probably not. Mr. Irving is, after all, a fiction writer. But Bill Abbott could be Irving, or at least he could be the fictional version of the man who wrote The World According to Garp and Hotel New Hampshire. He is described as someone who writes novels that make sexual differences seem normal, who calls for sexual tolerance. Perhaps this is how John Irving would like to be described as well.

    2 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2012

    This is one of Irving's more personable novels. There is a lot o

    This is one of Irving's more personable novels. There is a lot of dialog which is not really that common in his novels. Once more, he attempts to bring to a human level the suffering of LBGT folk and others who must deal with self doubt, prejudice, marginalization and of course, rejection from supposedly loving family members. The scope of and stage on which the novel plays out is small in comparison to past novels, but Irving still delivers on his themes on the complexity of loving someone and the random, uncontrollable suffering that we must all face as we make our way through this life. A very good book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Despite my original misgivings on what I erroneously believed th

    Despite my original misgivings on what I erroneously believed the book was about- a love story with a transgendered person- I was quite surprised to see that the romance was but one aspect of the novel, and that the story John Irving writes is full of interesting characters and a heartfelt look at the life of a person who grew up challenging sexual norms. It was a moving story that had me in tears at points. We see Billy Abott grow up, with his family trying to shield him from the so-called scandals that led to his birth, and we get a birds-eye seat into his life as he comes into his own and makes what he can of these very so-called scandals. Although Irving does not dwell at length on the AIDS epidemic, he nails it when he does cover the period when gay men were dying and their friends were struggling to cope. I have to admit that the transgendered world is foreign to me, but what I saw was that many people find themselves in bodies that do not suit who they are, and they make courageous efforts to be at ease in their won skin.
    Irving takes note that many gay men are not comfortable with a man who claims to be bisexual, and I am one of those. That part of the novel was a stretch for me, but then, the book celebrates sexual diversity as normal, and who am I to argue with a universe where diversity is one of the crowning achievements?
    I do take issue with the idea that there as many transgendered persons as Irving would have us believe, at least in one family. But maybe some day we will learn that such is genetic, I wouldn't be surprised.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 16, 2014

    Important perspectives

    A wrenchingly difficult piece of literature, for the reflection of angst and sorrow felt by people who are members of any special population, and a must read for those who want to gain in understanding and compassion of a group just beyond our own.

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  • Posted January 24, 2014

    Longer than it needed to be, but definitely a good read.

    I'm not much of a fiction reader, but have liked John Irving in the past. Overall I liked this quite a lot, though it could have been shorter and been as good, or even better really. While I wasn't alive back then, I have to think the community as it was written was a bit more tolerant than anything existing in reality in the early 60's, so some suspension of disbelief was required but not to the point of being distracting.

    It was really nice to read a novel written from the perspective of a bisexual man, which included characters representing all of the GLBTQ world, backed by a major publisher like Simon & Schuster.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2014

    Good

    I liked this book a lot. I was not sure about it based on the reviews compared to other Irving books but I was glad I read it and think it is a really good book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2013

    Outstanding

    I enjoyed this very much. Irving is the great American author.

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  • Posted March 11, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    In One Person is the story of William Abbott's life. An author

    In One Person is the story of William Abbott's life. An author now nearing seventy, Bill or Billy as most knows him, looks back over his life and thinks about the influences that have made him the man he is today. Bill is a bisexual man, and his life growing up in Vermont was spent coming to terms with his differences.

    There is a wide cast of characters. Billy's father is absent and he has no memory of him. His male influences are his cross-dressing grandfather and his stepfather, ten years younger than his mother. He has a domineering grandmother and aunt, and a rebellious lesbian cousin. Bill attends an all-male academy, from which his closest friends come. Elaine is a faculty daughter as Billy is a faculty son. They have a close, sustaining relationship. There is Tom, who has a crush on Billy, and who later becomes his first male lover. There is Kittredge, a swaggering athlete, impossibly beautiful, who Billy adores and fears in equal measure.

    Then there is the town librarian, Miss Frost. She recognizes Bill's intellectual curiosity and becomes his friend, guiding his reading and shoring up his self-esteem. Bill loves her and not just platonically. When as a senior, their friendship progresses to the physical, it turns out that Miss Frost was formally Al Frost, a former wrestling star at the academy. After leaving school, Al became the transgender Miss Frost.

    The book follows Billy's life. It explores the AIDS epidemic, which takes many of Billy's friends and lovers, It explores his relationship with both male and female lovers. Finally, it documents Bill's creation of his own family of choice. He realises that what he needs cannot be found 'in one person' and takes what he can from those around him to carve out a satisfactory life.

    I am a huge Irving fan. Many of the motifs seen in other books are here; the New England setting, the wrestling background, and the offbeat characters striving for validation in a world where they are different from the mainstream. Billy is a strong character, refusing to feel like less of a person because of his differences. Characterization is one of Irving's strengths along with his championing of those who are different. This book is recommended for Irving fans and for those interested in self-actualization.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2012

    Excellent

    Classic Irving- new england setting many of the same characrers as in Owen Meaney'

    *


    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2012

    The wonder of John Irving!

    I have read all of Irving's books & loved everyone. He remains one of my favorites. This book is about the struggle of being different, the need for everyone to be loved by another & how to love yourself the way you are. Its a story of cross-dressers, bi-sexuals, trans-gender people that just want to be loved by their family & community. Funny at times, heartbreaking often. Rich characters that make you feel their pain. If you dont like the subject matter you won't like this book because it is very detailed & graphic at times. But if your mind and heart are open you will cheer for each wonderful character!

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