John Irving’s In One Person

John Irving’s new novel In One Person is a beautiful, fantastic book. It is narrated by Bill in the present day as he reflects upon growing up in the 1950s and the intervening half-century. He realizes as a teenager that he is bisexual, and the rest of the novel describes his journey to figuring out how he fits in a society that designates him as Other and the friends he meets along the way. It is the best fictional depiction of bisexuality that I have ever encountered both in terms of how accurate it is and how positively bisexuality is portrayed–Bill encounters lots of people who are unsympathetic to him, but he never lets their hatred affect his confidence in who he is and his confidence that there is nothing wrong with him. The novel also includes several sympathetic transgender characters and a moving description of the early AIDS crisis. It is difficult to write about In One Person because it is just so good that mere descriptions of it pale in comparison.


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