Saturday, October 6, 2012

In One Person

In One Person, by John Irving

As a long-time John Irving fan (one year I even gave my husband tickets to go see/hear him at Portland's Wordstock, and he was great, talking about his novel about tattoo addicts [Until I Find You]!), I have never failed to finish one of his books. But I could not bear to go on.

I read up until about page 95 and put it aside to read my book group book (All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West), hoping that I'd be more interested once I got back to it.

This morning I picked up the book again, read a few pages, and gave up. Life's too short to read a book I'm not enjoying The premise sounded intriguing, but as one reviewer put it, Irving manages to make the life of bisexual Billy seem completely boring and uninspired. He fails to elicit any kind of sympathy for his main character because Billy is so detached. 

Even the early theater and Shakespeare descriptions bored me (and I'm a theater lover!). The sexual proclivities and lust were tiresome and hard to comprehend...perhaps because I've never been drawn (sexually or otherwise) to people who were horrible to me.

I'll quote another Goodreads reviewer (Robyn Roscoe), who described my feelings well:

"I long for the well-crafted story, the characters that made you care, and the experiences that both surprised and satisfied. In this novel, Irving spoils his own story over and over again, essentially telling us what is going to happen well in advance and then dragging out the actual reveal through page after page of tedious description and narrative. I know Irving can write a story with characters I care about, so either he needs to listen to his editors or get some new ones. Since I didn't get through more than about a third of this book, I don't know what actually happens to Billy through his life. Sadly, I don't really care. If this story was meant to develop understanding of the tribulations of the LGBT community, it fails to accomplish that. It also fails to interest or entertain."

So disappointed. I think I'll go back and reread one of his earlier books.

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