IN ONE PERSON by John Irving
John Irving’s novels are compasses of truth that illuminate our individual paths to enlightenment.
Part of my awakening this time around stems from rereading A Prayer For Owen Meany only a few months ago. Reading about Owen is not essential for you to appreciate Billy Abbott’s tale, but writers may find this particular order a fascinating study into Irving’s writing.
Narrators Johnny Wheelwright and Billy Abbott are core opposites and yet, they share similar roots. They were born out of wedlock and learned next to nothing about their biological father from their mother. A grandparent and stepfather were significant role models. And both boys were educated within the confines of a private school in a small New England town, where community theatre played a large part in their lives. But what they share is less important than the personal issues of identity these characters wrestle with.
We are who we are, aren’t we?
Who characters are and what they are willing, or not willing to stand for is a major theme in Irving’s work, and one of the reason I never grow tired of his stories. He draws me into worlds of deeply flawed individuals whose quirks and obsessions appear foreign. Then, in the end I realize the sentiments of the main character are my own; or maybe they have become my own.
Gender issues are a common struggle today. Fortunately, John Irving has turned on the light. Through the life of one particular bisexual man, In One Person will dare you to be a better person. Open your heart and expand your definition of tolerance with John Irving’s thirteenth novel.