Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Review: In One Person by John Irving

John Irving is one of my favorite authors. I think for the same reason I love indie films. There are great actors in indie films and they tackle the scripts that big movie houses won't. Not enough money in them. Irving writes like an indie film plays. Does that make any sense?
William Abbott, grew up with a single mom,  in a house surrounded by family members. Grandmother & Grandfather, Aunt , Cousin....he certainly wasn't a lonely child. But..he didn't know his father.
He attended the private boys school in town. Most of the story centers around the school and the town with it's many "indie" characters. Most of his family was involved in the town's drama productions. His mom was an off stage prompter, his aunt an actress and his grandad, well, he was an actor who consistently played  female roles.
This story is told by Billy Abbott, after all, it is his story to tell. He tells of his family's resistance to telling him about his father. He knew snippets, he remembers someone telling him a very funny story of a man reading Madame Bovary and something about sliding across toilets on a  rocking ship.
Eventually, his mom meets and marries his step-father who also happens to be a Shakespearean actor and so the town has a new drama teacher. Billy develops  a crush (one of many) on his stepfather and at the same time, a crush on the town's librarian. By the time he reaches high school, he is a "sexual suspect". ( If you have read Irving, then you recall him using this phrase in 'Garp') Billy is a bi-sexual male, at a time when the new mysterious illness we now know as AIDS becomes an epidemic.
As Owen Meany gave us Irving's thoughts on the Vietnam War, so is One Person his thoughts on the 80's & 90's AIDS crisis. This novel is full of  love, loss and secrets. It is an eye opening story, filled with unforgettable characters. Ten Thumbs Up.

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