Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Criticizing John Irving?

GOD, I hope he does not somehow read my blog!
Because, generally, I love John Irving's stuff -- I've read a real lot of it, almost all of it. But having just finished his most recent book, In One Person -- I don't know. I really have to watch what I say, because Irving is a skilled wrestler, and he could beat me up!
But this book, overall, just did not connect with me. This is partially why it took me somewhere around three weeks to finish it.
It's the story of this guy, Billy Abbott, who is struggling [and then not struggling] from early adolescence on into adulthood, with his bisexuality. The core of the story takes place in America during the 1970's and then '80's, when AIDS was really making itself known -- and in that sense, I think that it does well in elucidating a lot about the history of intolerance toward homosexuality -- and how things have changed in that regard. But from simply an artifice perspective -- I find that I have problems with Irving's characterization… of his characters. And often, with his dialogue.
And these are two real biggees with me, in novels. I have to believe that a) this is how people act, and b) this is how people talk -- when I read a novel. 
One of my favorite books of all time is A Prayer For Owen Meany, but, gee whiz, I'm getting weary with how Irving focuses on people's idiosyncrasies, and [in my opinion] exaggerates living in the past, or, just [and I hate to say it this way, but I must]….. they just cannot seem to GET OVER THINGS.
We move on. We forgive. We even forget, sometimes. It's all about self-preservation. But I find that with a lot of what Irving writes, his characters can't seem to do this, and it wearies me. And by the way, I'm not referring to homosexuality here, in the case of this novel, as if that is something that one should "get over with" -- no. Not at all. It's just that life is more three-dimensional than I think John Irving is willing to grant his characters.
And so this novel, even though it has a really nice cover, I can award it only three [possibly male-clasped] bra-straps, of a potential five.


1 comment:

Stefanie said...

Too bad this one was disappointing. Hopefully he will be back on his game with his next one!