In One Person
by John Irving
Simon & Schuster. 425 pages, $28.
IT HAS BEEN a while since I read any John Irving, so I was looking forward to his latest novel, In One Person, whose themes of sexual variation and gender identity had been widely reported. Irving is an unrepentant liberal, and although it may not have changed the debate, his novel The Cider House Rules (1985) was a welcome defense of abortion rights. Irving has his detractors, of course, some of whom find him wanting compared to his literary hero, Charles Dickens. Others, who don’t like Dickens’ overly broad characters and penchant for sentimentality, will feel that Irving does not escape some of these very weaknesses.