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In One Person by John Irving
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In One Person (2012)

by John Irving

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,362635,636 (3.58)80
  1. 00
    Tomboy. by Thomas Meinecke (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: In beiden Werken geht es um sexuelle Identität.
  2. 11
    Self by Yann Martel (LynnB)
    LynnB: Explores gender identity.
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» See also 80 mentions

English (54)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  French (1)  Norwegian (1)  Finnish (1)  All (63)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
I give up! I really wanted to like this book (Irving's "Prayer for Owen Meany" is one of my favorites) but I'm at page 144 of 425 pages, and I'm waving the flag of surrender. I can appreciate a novel that's slow to unfold, but this one more than meanders off the path; it doesn't appear to even have a path. ( )
  dcmr | Jul 4, 2017 |


This is Garp good. I had a hard time putting this down but did not want it to end. Most of the characters were enjoyable, though some of the story line stretched the imagination. This is Irving back in his old form. He writes with humor and empathy about his characters. ( )
  JBSassypants | May 7, 2017 |
sadly disappointing.

dear john,
you're a long way from your glorious owen meany days. please turn around and go back.
sincerely,
your devoted fan ( )
  kate_r_s | Feb 12, 2017 |
This was a highly interesting listening, even if I needed some time to dive into the story. In my opinion, the beginning could have been shorter, because only after the first third did the story begin to live for me.
What is highly interesting is that the story plays at a time when the issue of gender was still taboo. It addresses equally homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender. It shows the outbreak of AIDS and how people deal with death. The different characters have grown very much to my heart during listening, and I could sympathize with them. The topic is still highly ardent and it will probably still be a time before it is normal in our society. ( )
  Ameise1 | Oct 10, 2016 |
Throughout college and for about a half-decade after, John Irving was my favorite author. I loved the way he took similar elements (wrestling, squash, New England, boarding schools, abortion, sexual diversity, shrill and prudish women) and reshuffled them into something full of new meaning. I loved A Prayer for Owen Meany and A Widow for One Year, and I enjoyed, to one degree or another, everything else of his I read (with the possible exception of The Water-Method Man, but we're all entitled to some misses).

Overall, In One Person does just what my favorite Irving novels do with the reshuffled elements and the new meaning. In addition, Irving tackles without flinching issues of sexuality and gender fluidity that have seemingly got our whole country shifting in their seats a little (or a lot) right now. And I really appreciate the look at what the AIDS epidemic was like in the 1980's. I was in elementary school when Ryan White was kicked out of school for being HIV positive and in college when the first anti-retrovirals were approved, but while AIDS was present and in the news for much of my youth, I had little to no experience with people living with the disease until I was an adult and public sentiment---and available treatments---had changed dramatically. This novel wasn't the first time I'd heard about what it was like on the inside of this epidemic, but it was a poignant telling. As usual, Irving doesn't pull any punches.

All of this I love, but I didn't quite love this novel as a whole. It took about 180 pages for the story to start moving, and when it did I thought, "There! There's the Irving that I know!" but even after that, it never quite reached the level of my favorite Irving novels.

The main problem I have is with the narrator. I don't dislike Bill/Billy/William as a person---he's actually a quite sympathetic character---but he is a clumsy narrator. Either Irving, for artistic reasons, is letting Bill do the narrating knowing he'll overuse italics and exclamation points and repeat words and phrases beyond the tolerance of the reader, or this is actually Irving's narrating voice and he's lost his edge or is just phoning it in these days. In a way, it doesn't really matter because I found the narration tedious regardless.

Beyond the head-on way Irving addresses gender identity, sexuality, and HIV/AIDS, I also appreciate the way he portrays the differences between generations. We see the progression in tolerance from the pre-World War II generation through to the Millennials, although I do sense a little Baby Boomer reticence about GenX. While Baby Boomers and Millennials get starring roles in Irving's world, GenX features hardly at all (by my count, just two characters who reach adulthood) and always as the pragmatists stuck in between a generation of navel-gazers and a generation of phone-gazers. That's not really Irving's fault, though; by underappreciating (or perhaps just misunderstanding) GenX, he's just reflecting reality. (Boo-hoo, I know.)

At any rate, aside from the sidelining of my generation, I like the way that Irving shows how tolerance grows gradually and in a nonlinear fashion as the paradigms of each generation shift. What was once unthinkable becomes not only possible but almost normal two generations down the line. Or in the case of Shakespeare and casting men in women's roles and vice versa, it goes more "acceptable, unacceptable, unacceptable but necessary, acceptable but edgy, acceptable." Or something like that. Nonlinear.

I also enjoy how disappointingly human Irving's characters are. With the possible exception of Miss Frost, there are no perfect characters. Everyone's just muddling along the way we all do. It's not always satisfying, but I wouldn't trust a novel in which it was any other way. ( )
1 vote ImperfectCJ | Aug 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
Den amerikanske forfatteren John Irving har latt seg inspirere av Henrik Ibsen i sin nyeste roman. Ibsen-diskusjonene er det beste ved boken, som ellers inneholder forutsigbare Irving-temaer som bryting, en forsvunnet far, uklare identiteter og ikke minst sex i de fleste konstellasjoner
added by annek49 | editNRK, Anne Cathrine Straume (Jun 18, 2012)
 
Jeg må tilstå med det samme: Jeg er blodfan av John Irving. Han forteller historier uten like, og i I en og samme person er han umiskjennelig irvingsk – tematikken er ikke ukjent for Irving-lesere, og hovedpersonen har som ofte før flere likhetstrekk med forfatteren. Denne romanen er både deilig, smertefull og underholdende å oppholde seg i. Typisk nok varer oppholdet i hundrevis av sider, litt over fem hundre
 
Irving likes to track his characters over long stretches of time. “In One Person” begins in the mid-1950s, when Billy is 13, and shadows him until he is in his late 60s, in 2010. As a work of fiction, it is true to the way we recall our lives rather than the way we actually live them; we live in linear time — we have no choice — but the curve of our memory is never a straight line. Happenings that lasted an hour can obsess us for years. Years of our lives can be forgotten.
 

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Irvingprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hoekmeijer, NicoletteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Thus play I in one person many people, and none contented.
William Shakespeare, Richard II
Dedication
For Sheila Heffernon and David Rowland and in memory of Tony Richardson
First words
I'm going to begin by telling you about Miss Frost.
Quotations
My dear boy, please don't put a label on me -- don't make me a category before you get to know me!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The author's most political novel since The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany, this novel is an intimate and unforgettable portrait of the solitariness of a bisexual man who is dedicated to making himself "worthwhile."

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