In One Person by John Irving

How is everyone’s summer reading list going? Mine is moving along like the swift and nimble rush of a gazelle turtle.

I did finish one book though. It wasn’t on my list but when someone brought to my attention that John Irving recently came out with his next novel I was at the bookstore the next day. And as if holding In One Person in my hands wasn’t enough of a joy,  another joy introduced itself to me during my neighborhood search for the elusive independent bookstore.

Little did I know that  Skylight Books in Los Feliz was such a great place! I didn’t find it at all pretentious, it’s in a great location—-go get a book and then a cup of coffee at Fred 62!—- and they have a whole lineup of great visiting authors at their venue.








But back to John Irving’s book…

I am not a literary critic. I was tempted to go online and read a bunch of book reviews so I could copy the general style of a critic, but why in the world would I do that?? How about I just use my own words and my own way of thinking. First, I will be honest and say that anything Irving writes automatically begins at a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10 for me. The man’s weakest tale (which for me would probably be Hotel New Hampshire) is still more captivating than almost any other modern novel I’ve read. He amazed me when he basically included two novels in one in Until I Find You. And of course, The World According to Garp is going to be a classic. Ciderhouse Rules, The 158-Pound Marriage, and A Widow For One Year are three other favorites of mine.

This latest book is special, though, and probably ranks high for me because of how it is situated in America’s current societal discourse. We’ve been seeing more and more attention paid to equal rights for LGBT individuals. Today’s young people are more comfortable accepting gender differences and there is even a popular pop music video that nonchalantly includes a gay crush in the story’s punchline.  In One Person revolves around the life of one bisexual man and introduces the reader to a cast of characters that are just an endearing as any of Irving’s best. As individuals, these characters can’t all be easily categorized into straight, gay, bi, trangender, etc. Irving examines the blurry lines that are the reality of gender and sexuality. We may try to categorize people, but it’s not that simple. The reverberating message of the novel is “Please don’t put a label on me…don’t make me a category before you get to know me.” And ultimately doesn’t that apply to all of us? Isn’t it yet another commonality that we all share? Whatever gender or sexuality we identify with, don’t we all just want to live without judgement and with a modicum of understanding from our fellow humans?  So even though Irving has written a novel about characters that may initially appear to be on the fringe—-universes unlike you and I—-he ultimately exposes them to be precisely the opposite. He does it without preaching and without sacrificing all of the quirky and kinky tendencies of Irving characters that we love so much!

Now it’s time for some nonfiction. How about quantum physics?? Laszlo here I come! Stay tuned….

10 thoughts on “In One Person by John Irving

  1. thanks for the review. i hadn’t heard that john irving had a new book out. i’ve been a fan ever since he published “the world according to garp” – my favorite book. if i could be a character in a novel i would choose jenny fields. even though the film left so much out i eventually accepted it as a great film. i’ve read it so many times but not recently. john irving is one of my favorite authors. it’s been awhile though since i’ve read one of his novels. i slowed down at “owen meaney” and started following another path but “in one person” sounds just like the right book to get back into his literature. it’s always good to write in your own words. it usually sounds more real and it comes from the heart. jen

      • i will do that. it might not be for awhile. my kindle overfloweth. yes, i have given into that techno gadget. i never thought i would but i really enjoy and use it for other then just reading. it is, also, easier on my hands and wrists to hold it. i am a hardcover book reader. paperbacks always felt wrong to me. so this in some ways is like reading from a hardcover with the heaviness and the awkwardness of tunring pages and having my cats trying to lie on the pages. the kindle touch i can move easily into another position and the cats and i get along better while i am reading. jen

          • it’s like having a new toy. there are lots of free ebooks you can download all the time to check out. i’ve found some rather good and great books this way. and all of the old not copywrited books. i, however, have an app that allows me to write a note up to 3100 charactes. so when i am out and waiting for an appointment i often find myself writing poetry. i feel the presence of all the creativity loaded on my kindle touch that my muse gets lots of energy that gets channelled into me and my fingers can’t more fast enough when begin the poem. it’s great for notes also. i have short term memory problems so it comes in handy to write everything down. the poetry part is great. you can download them onto your laptop easily and then edit them into the form you want them to take. just a benefit. plus ebooks are so affordable. just some encouragement. jen

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