Lisa Says… Read This Book by John Irving

By Lisa Hamilton

In One Person by John Irving
in One Person
by John Irving

Critics are saying John Irving’s new novel, In One Person, is his most political book since Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany. While that may be true, and I do agree, it is also a beautiful story of desire and sexual identity. It is a story with a strong voice and a rich mix of characters that shape the life of young Bill Abbot, the novel’s protagonist. The epic begins while Bill is an impressionable adolescent being raised in 1950s Vermont, in an all boys boarding school. We follow Bill Abbott and his unique family and friends through life until the present day. While Irving’s style has always treated readers to the most outlandish experiences, this book shares interesting comparisons. Irving is a writer from Vermont, 70 years old and the stepson of a prep school teacher. So is Bill Abbott.

As Billy always has “crushes on the wrong people,” we soon learn that Irving is making us think differently than we did before, from another perspective so to speak. On the last page of the book, Billy is accused of being a writer that makes sexual extremes seem normal, of creating characters that are so different that we are expected to sympathize with them. Isn’t that the accomplishment any great writer would like to have? All the usual Irving trademarks are in this book as the difficulties of bisexuality and homosexuality are explored – a poignant tribute to the times.

About this writer

  • Lisa Hamilton A native South Carolinian, Lisa Hamilton is the director of the First Presbyterian Church Preschool and Kindergarten. Of course she loves reading, but also finds time for cooking and walking her dog, Hurley.

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