John Irving's 13th novel In One
Person features two transgender heroes and a bisexual narrator.
“You make all these sexual extremes
seem normal – that's what you do and then you expect us to
sympathize with them,” the son of a high-school friend tells
novelist Billy Abbott in the book.
“Yes,” Abbott replies, “that's
more or less what I do.”
In the novel, Abbott falls in love with
an older transgender woman, Miss. Frost, and later saves a young
There are also devastating chapters set
during the 1980s grappling with the AIDS crisis and death. USA
Today called those passages “Irving at his best.”
Appearing on The CBS Morning Show
to pitch In One Person, Irving said the novel was “pretty
much fully formed 10 years ago, 12 years ago and I didn't begin
writing it until June of 2009.”
“It's a novel about our lingering,
still with us, intolerance for sexual differences,” Irving said.
“I chose the bisexual main character because I knew he would
generate more distrust from straights and gays alike. He is a
deliberately chosen sexual outsider or misfit. And perhaps a part of
his attraction to these 2 transgender women of different generations
is that he recognizes that they are even more marginalized in society
or even more distrusted than he is.”
Writing on Amazon.com, Irving said that
the two transgender characters are the heroes of the novel because
they are the people Abbott most admires.