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, 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.
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In one person
Excellent. My only problem is I have finished it. I wanted it to go on an on. I feel bereft. Great book a must read.