In One Person by John Irving

75%

51 Critic Reviews

“In One Person” gives a lot. It’s funny, as you would expect. It’s risky in what it exposes.
-NY Times

Synopsis

A New York Times bestselling 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.

"His most daringly political, sexually transgressive, and moving novel in well over a decade" (Vanity Fair).

Winner of a 2013 Lambda Literary Award

Billy, the bisexual narrator and main character of In One Person, 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.

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."
 

About John Irving

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John Irving published his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, in 1968. He has been nominated for a National Book Award three times-winning once, in 1980, for the novel The World According to Garp. He also received an O. Henry Award, in 1981, for the short story "Interior Space." In 1992, Mr. Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 2000, he won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules-a film with seven Academy Award nominations. In 2001, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Last Night in Twisted River is John Irving's twelfth novel.
 
Published May 8, 2012 by Simon & Schuster. 450 pages
Genres: Current Affairs, Other, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Romance, Law & Philosophy, Gay & Lesbian. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
icon12
Peak Rank on May 27 2012
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for In One Person
All: 51 | Positive: 36 | Negative: 15

Kirkus

Excellent
Mar 15 2012

Woody Allen’s bon mot about bisexuality is that it doubled one’s chances for a date, but in this novel Irving explores in his usual discursive style some of the more serious and exhaustive consequences of Allen’s one-liner.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Jeanette Winterson on May 11 2012

“In One Person” gives a lot. It’s funny, as you would expect. It’s risky in what it exposes.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on May 09 2012

His blunt politicking for full understanding of gay and transgendered identity sits uncomfortably with his zany side.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Steven Poole on May 11 2012

The novel becomes a comic celebration of polymorphous perversity, and of literature.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Tim Adams on May 04 2012

Irving is not a novelist who enjoys loose ends and he ties up each of his plot strands here one by one until they form a satisfying pattern.

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WSJ online

Excellent
Reviewed by Sam Sacks on May 07 2012

Mr. Irving is unfailingly respectful and broad-minded in exploring these subjects...

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Star Tribune

Excellent
Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg on May 05 2012

Still, it's an admirable undertaking, evoking the spirit of his literary hero, Charles Dickens, to examine a serious social issue without losing sight of the truth that those ultimate questions are rooted in the everyday world of living, breathing people.

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Globe and Mail

Excellent
Reviewed by Steven Hayward on May 11 2012

His work has been indispensible over the past four decades, and it will prove more important, more urgently resonant and more prescient, in the decades to come.

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Toronto Star

Above average
Reviewed by Laura Eggertson on May 12 2012

Irving fans will welcome In One Person as another thought-provoking read. Those new to the author, though, would do better with The Cider House Rules or one of his earlier books as even more enjoyable reads.

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Toronto Star

Below average
Reviewed by Laura Eggertson on May 12 2012

Despite some strong characterizations like his portrayal of Harry, Irving doesn't fully explore others.

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AV Club

Excellent
Reviewed by Todd VanDerWerff on May 07 2012

Nothing is ever so dark that good people can’t make the world better by turning on more lights, he suggests, and that makes In One Person’s conclusion a thing of beauty.

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LA Times

Below average
Reviewed by Davin Ulin on May 13 2012

In the end, this is where "In One Person" stumbles, when it tries to fuse social commentary with art.

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Entertainment Weekly

Excellent
Reviewed by Benjamin Svetkey on May 16 2012

His prose, as always, is gorgeous, and Irving remains a master builder when it comes to constructing an epic plot filled with satisfying twists.

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The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Ron Charles on May 08 2012

No matter what its flaws, there’s a talent at work in this brave new novel that — as Prospero said — “frees all faults.”

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by Boyd Tonkin on Jun 02 2012

No one, over three decades, has worked this seam with more zest and glee than John Irving.

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The Telegraph

Below average
Reviewed by James Walton on May 29 2012

...his sexuality is always slightly suspect... it feels as if it’s been constructed to fit the author’s message.

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The Bookbag

Excellent
Reviewed by Robin Leggett

I have kept hoping that Irving will write another book that is as memorable as his 1980s output in terms of characters and stories... This is that book.

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USA Today

Excellent
Reviewed by David Daley on May 07 2012

They grapple with death, AIDS and with profundity and quiet dignity, a parade of loss that's Irving at his best: unbearably sad, unforgettably narrated, painfully human.

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Huffington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Lisa Firestone on May 30 2012

John Irving's latest novel, In One Person, is a timely statement about men and women, the nature of sexuality and society's assault on the self.

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The Boston Globe

Excellent
Reviewed by Brock Clarke on May 06 2012

On the contrary, it’s one of his most energetic, impassioned books — but too often that energy ends up trumping artistry.

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Dallas News

Excellent
Reviewed by Joy Tipping on May 04 2012

...an elegant paean to love in its infinite and glorious forms.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
Reviewed by Michael Berry on May 20 2012

In One Person will reward Irving's longtime readers and gain him new ones.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
Reviewed by Michael Berry on May 20 2012

In One Person" will reward Irving's longtime readers and gain him new ones. In the end, it proves far more unpredictable than expected, just as love, desire and sexuality do to its beguiled narrator.

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The Seattle Times

Excellent
Reviewed by David Takami on May 13 2012

In Irving's experienced hands, however, they are presented with respect and affection, and never seem less than human.

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Express

Below average
Reviewed by Aline Reed on May 21 2012

His newly published 13th novel, In One Person, doesn't quite live up to those standards but it ends in a world where attitudes towards sexuality have been transformed.

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Excellent
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on May 10 2012

In One Person celebrates human variety with Irving's trademark narrative exuberance.

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Tampa Bay Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Colette Bancroft on May 06 2012

...In One Person is an exuberant return to form by Irving, reminiscent of his best works, such as The World According to Garp and The Cider House Rules.

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About.com

Excellent
Reviewed by John Formy-Duval

But, it is just this kind of book that needs to be on library shelves because it argues so forcefully on behalf of those who are marginalized in our society.

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The Daily Beast

Excellent
Reviewed by Liesl Schillinger on May 13 2012

This month, I read Irving’s newest novel, In One Person, which gathers the echoes of all his earlier novels in one place.

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Excellent
Reviewed by Don Anderson on May 05 2012

Readers who enjoyed Irving's The World According to Garp will delight in In One Person, even with its rather limp last paragraph.

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Independent.ie

Below average
Reviewed by Ronan Farren on Jul 01 2012

...in spite of all the self-conscious creation of 'colourful' characters and exotic events, the narrative plods along in a lifeless and seemingly aimless way.

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Chron.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Ronnie Crocker on May 13 2012

Irving, a deservedly best-selling author for decades, is to be commended for reminding us of the harshness of that scourge, to both its victims and to the rest of us.

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Boston.com

Below average
Reviewed by Brock Clarke on May 06 2012

This is a nakedly ambitious novel, one with moments of high beauty and terror and comedy, but also one that ends up being not nearly as great as it wants to be.

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Cleveland.com

Below average
Reviewed by Karen Sandstrom on May 08 2012

...careens between the trivial and absurd, the absurd and the graphically sexual. Its central theme, that human sexuality is more nuanced than advertised, seems so 20-years-ago...

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Daily Kos

Below average
Jun 29 2012

It wasn't easy…and not just because of the tendency to jump back and forth through time…which made "plot" an almost extraneous element, at least for me, and was annoying as hell.

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Oprah.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Leigh Newman on May 21 2012

What transforms the story from a predictable novel about private secrets into the story of a young man understanding his identity in the context of his family and past is Irving himself.

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The New Yorker

Excellent
Reviewed by Thomas Mallon on May 07 2012

Readers looking for bears—often seen riding motorcycles or being set free from zoos in John Irving’s fiction—will find only a human, subcultural variant of the species in his new novel...

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The New Zealand Herald

Excellent
Reviewed by David Hill on May 23 2012

A big story from a big writer. There's raunchy, rueful humour and lyrical yearnings.

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The New York Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Charles Baxter on Jul 12 2012

The book is very entertaining and relies on verbal showmanship even when the events narrated are grim, a tonal incongruity characteristic of this author.

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Time Out New York

Below average
Reviewed by Elizabeth Nelson on May 23 2012

Though he’s indisputably wrangling with one of the great human-rights tragedies of contemporary American life, the author plays it out in condescending melodrama...

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Esquire

Excellent
Reviewed by Mark Warren on May 08 2012

...In One Person is a rich and absorbing book, even beautiful, and probably the most different book of Irving's long career.

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Keizertimes

Excellent
Reviewed by Terri Schlichenmeyer on May 14 2012

Yes, this book felt long at times, but Irving’s Billy makes you stick around for every single page.

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NY Daily News

Below average
Reviewed by Sherryl Connelly on May 06 2012

“In One Person” falls short of full-bodied Irving at his best...Something is missing from this novel that is more pleasing than powerful.

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Digital Journal

Below average
Reviewed by Jeff Cottrill on Aug 03 2012

As it is, the book is hampered by self-conscious echoes of Irving's previous books; even some of the same exact phrases from past books reappear. Is this from age or just laziness?

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The Satirist

Excellent
Reviewed by Dan Geddes on Aug 30 2012

Overall, In One Person is a satisfying chronicle.

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Gaelick

Excellent
Jul 13 2012

The book is pure plot and story and a life worth living, and certainly worth reading about.

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Literary Treats

Below average
Reviewed by Jaclyn Qua-Hiansen on Jun 12 2012

In One Person does get to be too much like a manifesto at times — I felt like we get the point, move on with the story — and characters put it to forward the novel’s argument.

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Between The Covers

Good
Reviewed by Heather on May 07 2012

In One Person incorporates everything I have come to love about John Irving’s writing–great storytelling; wonderful characters; humor, heartbreak, compassion, and everything in between.

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Wales Arts Review

Below average
Reviewed by B. Epstein

Alas, the novel doesn’t fulfil them, in that Billy’s bisexuality feels like it was chosen by the author for the purpose of exploring particular topics and for attracting notice...

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Book Jones Review

Good
Reviewed by Mike Jones on Jun 12 2012

The author uses this bird's-eye view narrative once again to great effect, merging a personal chronicle with the pages of history.

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The Rainbow Reader

Good
Reviewed by Salem West on May 08 2012

In One Person is smart, funny, raw, poignant, and heartbreaking... It is a book that will one day take its rightful place among the greatest books of our generation.

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Reader Rating for In One Person
68%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 1071 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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