A Rare DNF – In One Person

InOnePersonWe are formed by what we desire. In less than a minute of excited, secretive longing, I desired to become a writer and to have sex with Miss Frost – not necessarily in that order. – from In One Person

The book jacket describes John Irving’s newest novel this way:

A compelling 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.

The main character is Billy and his story begins as a young boy and spans more than 50 years in the book. As with all Irving novels, this one begins with an introduction to multiple quirky characters who are struggling with their identity. Irving’s narrative shifts back and forth in time in a nonlinear fashion, but remains seated in Billy’s limited first person point of view.

I wanted to love this novel because I am a huge John Irving fan. I have been reading Irving’s novels for years and have loved almost every book he has written, including Cider House Rules, The World According to Garp, Hotel New Hampshire, A Prayer for Owen Meany (read my review), and Last Night in Twisted River (read my review). Reading Irving novels always takes a bit of patience due to his signature meandering style – but, patience is usually rewarded with rich characters, surprise plot twists, humor, and a clarity of insight into the human condition.

I started reading In One Person on March 5th, and only managed to get through 140 pages ten days later. I am having a hard time putting my finger on what did not work for me. I found my mind wandering. I felt disconnected to Billy, whose voice began to grow tedious to me. I kept coming back to the book because I wanted to love it; I wanted to find the magic which I often find in John Irving novels. But it was not happening…and so I did something I rarely ever do: I closed the book and decided not to finish it.

Don’t just take my word for it – check out some other reviews of this book:

Walking on the Moon

Between the Covers

Library Thing reviews (30 reviews in one place)

Have you read and reviewed this book? Please leave me a link to your review in the comments and I’ll add it to the links above.

Because I did not finish the book, I am not rating it.



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  1. I’m so disappointed – I had high hopes for this one.

    • Ti on March 18, 2013 at 08:54

    I bought the book in hardcover when it first came out. Something I almost never do and I never opened it. Just wasn’t in the right mood and then no one reviewed it! Not a good sign. I hope I don’t have the same reaction. I, too, am a big fan.

    • susan on March 19, 2013 at 05:11

    I must say I never had interest in reading this one … From what I read about it — it didn’t sound enticing

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